Beer and beyond: ‘The European brewing landscape is experiencing a renaissance’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

What's next for beer in Europe?
What's next for beer in Europe?
As the ‘cradle of modern brewing’, Europe is home to an estimated 80 beer styles and 50,000 beer brands. But where’s it all going next? As a multitude of styles, flavors and innovations continue to evolve, The Brewers of Europe is hosting a two-day event to look ahead to the future of the category.

The rise in microbrewing, innovations in low and no alcohol beers, and further diversification of styles and flavors are just some of the trends the trade body – which represents Europe’s 8,500 brewers and 29 national associations – puts the spotlight on for the coming years. 

The inaugural Brewers of Europe Forum, ‘Beer and Beyond’,​ will bring brewers of all shapes and sizes – as well as other stakeholders in the industry – together in Brussels on June 7-8. Speakers include Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev; Cees ‘t Hart, CEO, Carlsberg; and Steve Hindy; co-founder and chairman, Brooklyn Brewery.

“With the doubling of the number of breweries all across Europe and the increase of available brands and styles there has been a successful move towards reigniting Europe’s love of beer,” ​said Jan de Grave, communications director, The Brewers of Europe. 

“The category is more vibrant and in better health due to this ‘renaissance’ in the beer category: helped by the whole sector getting people to think differently about beer.”

Europe: tradition and innovation

belgium bruges beer pic artJazz
Belgium hosts the inaugural beer forum.

Europe is home to 8,500 breweries; produces more than 40 billion liters of beer a year, and supports 2.3 million jobs.

It is the second largest beer producer in the world after China.

Europe considers itself as the ‘cradle of beer’, with a number of traditional strong beer cultures such as Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.  

But while tradition is important to the sector, so is innovation – and the industry is evolving quickly.

“One major trend in mature beer countries is that consumers are looking for more variation, different tastes and specific aromas,” ​said de Grave. “An increase in the consumption of speciality beers was noted across Europe by brewers and national associations in the latest EU survey. The value proposition of that diversity to consumers is rising as well.

“The growing variety of beer styles also includes an increasing number of lower and non-alcohol versions. Beer is also unique amongst the main alcoholic beverage categories for its range of alcoholic strengths.

"Within the rich spectrum of choice the sector offers consumers, the market for non-alcoholic and low alcohol beers has doubled from 2000 to 2015. Beers below 3% ABV now represent around 6% of the overall European beer market: reaching 14% in some countries.

Meanwhile, sustainability, moderation and corporate responsibility credentials are more vital than ever.

Exports, too, are another key opportunity for the European beer sector.

“Emerging markets bubble with potential: According to the European Commission, beer is affirming its place among Europe’s top export products, with double digit growth (+18%) in beer exports from 2014 to 2015.

“The top destinations are US, China, Canada, but over the past 20 years EU brewers have extended trade to 123 countries around the world. EU brewers are also among the top three import partners of 97 countries outside the EU.”

Forum to put spotlight on key trends

carlos brito AB InBev
Carlos Brito, CEO, AB InBev

The craft beer revolution is going global​ - Steve Hindy, Brooklyn Brewery

13 years of driving growth​ - Carlos Brito, CEO, AB InBev

No alcohol and low alcohol: product innovations and forecasts of a fast growing product category​ - Heineken, Euromonitor

The future of beer​ - Carlsberg, Heineken

Growth and value creation in the beer sector​ - Heineken, Fuller's

Brands & products – stories and styles​  - Asahi, HuHeHa, Birrificio del Ducato

Full program here.

Microbrewing is getting bigger

The European beer category is sometimes somewhat overshadowed by the success of the US craft beer movement: and so highlighting that similar innovation and development is taking place in Europe will be important to the industry moving forward.

“Europe is the cradle of beer: but there seems to be a perception of difference with the speed of innovation compared to US, although alcohol-free innovation is what has been developing more rapidly in Europe,” ​said de Grave.

A number of similar trends and challenges, however, are seen in both markets.

“Microbrewing is getting bigger and people want these beers – the volume is not growing accordingly so currently the ‘cake’ has to be divided between more parties. Stepping up the premiumisation ladder and diversification is key.”

Forum to focus on the future

With the European beer sector in growth mode, The Brewers of Europe says it is an exciting time for the industry and to and foster a ‘culture of togetherness’ within Europe’s beer value chain.

It’s why 2018 is the year to bring about its inaugural forum: Beer and Beyond,​ in Brussels on June 7-8.

Beer and breweries are proving to be increasingly successful and we wanted a conference where the entire European beer and brewing sector could come together to exchange and cross-fertilise knowledge, expertise, experience and ideas,” ​said de Grave.

The event offers such a multidisciplinary platform for all brewers, multinational and craft to be able to celebrate together their passion, knowledge and shared eagerness to grow and prosper.

"The Brewers Forum will thoroughly explore the business of brewing in Europe, bringing Europe’s expanding brewing community together to examine the commercial side of brewing and growth strategies as well as discussing advances in science and techniques.”

Pictures: getty/dor-is; getty/artJazz

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