This Country Drinks The Most Beer In The World

There are plenty of myths about beer, but it really has been a part of human civilization from the very beginning. Beer continues its global and historical reach to this day, as Kirin Holdings' most recent beer consumption analysis revealed that people around the world drank over 59 billion gallons of beer in 2021.

Only water and tea surpass beer in the number of global drinkers, and production of the hoppy beverage has generally risen over the years. Although China consumed the most beer out of any country in the world in 2021 at about 10 billion gallons, those numbers are due to sheer population size. More people live in China than anywhere else in the world, after all. 

Under per capita measurements, it's the Czech Republic that reigns supreme. Each citizen of the Central European country drank 48.63 gallons of beer on average and celebrated its 29th straight year of being on top of the per capita drinking charts when Kirin Holdings published its 2021 report. In other words, while China drank the most beer, the Czech Republic is the most beer-crazy country in the world.

Why does the Czech Republic drink so much beer?

The history of the Czech Republic is rooted in the art of brewing. As the home country of Pilsner Urquell, it's the birthplace of the light yet hoppy style known as the Pilsner. In addition, the city of České Budějovice was the main brewing center of the Holy Roman Empire, first opening operations in the 13th century. More familiarly known by its German name Budweis, it's the place that inspired St. Louis brewers Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch to name their company Budweiser. Of course, it always helps that beer is famously cheaper than water in the Czech Republic — although rising inflation costs have made buying a pint more costly than in the past. Last July, the average cost of a beer was about 64 Czech crowns, or about $2.75 USD, with an incoming tax increase in January 2024 expected to raise prices even higher to about 70 Czech crowns, or just over $3.00 USD. 

In general, Central Europe has a particularly high level of beer drinkers, as Austria, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, and Estonia are the next biggest consumers of beer per capita. Notably, Germany and Spain appear on both lists as top contributors to the global beer marketplace and per capita consumers, lending a strong argument to these two countries actually being among the biggest fans of beer in the world.

China's beer consumption

China's staggering population of more than 1.4 billion people makes it a prime market for beer companies based on customers alone, as Chinese beer drinkers make up about 20.5% of the total market share of the beverage product. 2022 saw Chinese breweries collectively produce more than 9.4 billion gallons of beer, and production is climbing at a rate of about 3-5% per year. Comparatively, the United States, the second-biggest beer-drinking country, makes up about 13% of the market share at about 6.4 billion gallons. 

The country already has its own juggernauts in Snow, Tsingtao, and Yanjing breweries, but foreign beer companies have also gained a foothold in the Chinese marketplace — though the population is beginning to turn to craft and organic beers that focus on quality. Anheuser-Busch, Heineken, Molson Coors, and Carlsberg, the largest brewers in the world outside of China, all rank among China's top beer importers and have bought significant stakes in Chinese beer companies. For instance, in 2018, Heineken bought a 40% stake in China Resources Beer, which owns Snow, and Anheuser-Busch has owned a 36% stake in Harbin. Chinese craft beer is growing in popularity and further expanding the marketplace.