German beer market

Discussion in 'Germany' started by einhorn, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (291) Nov 3, 2005 California

    OK, it was getting a little too quiet in here and I saw this pop up on social media. Not sure if it's worthy of it's own thread, but here we go.

    As a 3 day World Cup promotion, starting tomorrow (6/8/18) Edeka in the Rhein-Ruhr area will be selling RATSKRONE pilsner and Radler for just €.14 per 0.5 liter can. After beer tax and VAT that leaves just 6.5 cents, which is basically what the can costs to make. 10 liters (an American 30 pack) of beer for €2.80!

    I looked online at the Edeka site, no news yet but I assume it will be online soon. Until then, here's some snarky German fodder about this.
  2. Peekaboolu

    Peekaboolu Initiate (55) May 24, 2016 Germany

    Yeah pretty crazy to see such cheap prizes, I wonder how much of it they have to sell. In July 2016 I saw something similar where a different grocery store (Penny) was selling 18 500mL cans of a Helles beer for 1.99€ :


    Maybe there was the World Cup then a well? If so, then I guess it's a good time for all who want to buy cheap beer ^^
    einhorn likes this.
  3. Dodger75

    Dodger75 Initiate (51) Feb 26, 2017 England

    Do they deliver to the UK?
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  4. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (82) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Truly a Sonderangebot!
  5. Resuin

    Resuin Meyvn (1,282) Jun 18, 2012 Massachusetts

    Not sure if this is the right place for this, but does anyone know if Ayinger Leichte Brau-Weisse, or any leicht (light) hefeweizens, are available in the USA, either in stores/bars or via online order? Thanks!
  6. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (291) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Personally I have never seen any light (leichte) Hefeweizens in the states, but looking at Untappd, the Ayinger has a good amount of US reviews, so I'm assuming it should be available. If I'm in your shoes, ask your local store with a good amount of imports to ask their Ayinger distributor if they can special order it for you...
  7. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (291) Nov 3, 2005 California

  8. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,312) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    I'm not sure what they are talking about when they say that beer sales are being "swallowed". Swallowed by what exactly? Don't they just mean that beer sales are "down"?

    Semantics aside, I don't believe that this a particularly new phenomena, or restricted to Germany, is it? I haven't really been paying that much attention to it, but aren't beer sales on the decline quite generally?

    The most depressing part about that article is really more about the strongest brands, which are exclusively discount brands and Fernsehbier, of course.
  9. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,312) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    What is much more depressing to me personally is the really hard stand that craft beer is having in Germany. I'm getting more and more convinced that it will never take off here. Of course I can only judge it from my immediate surroundings, but Köln is quite a young, hip city and all the bottle shops here seem to be closing down one by one while the Getränkemarkts are banishing craft beer from their shelves because it is just not selling.

    The reasons for this are many, but one of the root causes in my opinion is that craft beer has not grown organically over time in Germany and was shoved into people's faces all at once instead, with the untappd ticking craze in full swing already as well. Every shop owner I have talked to is complaining about not being able to sell their cases because people only buy one bottle/can, tick it and are done with it. This is exacerbated by the still relatively low number of craft beer enthusiasts in Germany, of course. I'm actually convinced that untappd is the worst thing that ever happened to beer, but that's another story.

    I also think that the motivations for brewers are different. While craft beer was born out of a real passion for beer in the USA, I get the distinct impression that many brewers in Germany are more after the higher margins that craft beer offers than a desire to create a superior product. There are way too many substandard, yet expensive craft beers sitting on the supermarket shelves around here.

    Another big issue is freshness, which people just have absolutely no concept of over here. If you want your beer to be in supermarkets, it needs to have a best-by date of at least 9 months, with 12 months being much more common and pretty much the standard, really. Most of the beer I see on supermarket shelves is 4-8 months old and finding an IPA at less than 3 months old is pretty much impossible.

    The two biggest issues are simply price and the German mindset though, I reckon. German people are really used to paying no more than 2€ for a litre of beer, it's always been like that and you can buy it for half that price if you stick to discount brands. You pretty much can't buy craft beer for less than 6€ a litre here, with the average price being more around 8€, so that's a huge barrier for most people. That's supermarkets though, mind you. If you wanna buy the really good stuff from bottle shops, where you can actually find fresh stuff from the best breweries, it's more like 11€ per litre.

    Then there's the German mindset. Without wanting to generalize too much, I think the average German is very set in their ways and not that interested in trying new things. We even have a saying here: Was der Bauer nicht kennt, das frisst er nicht (the peasant won't eat what he doesn't know). Now imagine finally ponying up that ridiculous price for one of those weird craft beers you've been hearing so much about and then it tastes like shit because it's by a crappy brewery and is 6 months old. Yeah, that's probably the first and the last craft beer you ever bought.

    Well, this has gotten rather long, but I'm honestly frustrated. Two of my favorite bottle shops have already shut down and the one Getränkemarkt that was always a mekka for craft beer is getting less and less interested in offering it because he's sick of those untappd tickers and can't sell his cases. Finding interesting beers is getting harder and harder and when you do they are expensive as fuck most of the time. I've gotten used to paying 5-6€ for a can of beer, but I'm not paying 7-9€ or even more for a fucking can of IPA. Go fuck yourself.
  10. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,916) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Even in Berlin, and even amongst the younger crowd, craft beer hasn’t really taken off - it’s more of a novelty. And I’ve said this before, it doesn’t appear to me that German brewers really know how to handle these beers. Every craft IPA that I’ve tasted has been just a little bit off in the hops. That may be because the hops are a bit older, probably not, or maybe it’s that they’re hopping in more traditional ways - I’d like to hear how German brewers feel about 0 IBU, no kettle hop IPAs!

    What I really wanted to note though, is that although Germany remains very traditional, they’ve produced some new and fantastic hop varieties recently. That confuses me.
    boddhitree likes this.
  11. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,312) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    There are plenty of great IPAs being produced in Germany, but you won't find those in supermarkets because those breweries actually know what they are doing and refuse to set their best by dates for more than 3-5 months. Also, those beers are even more expensive than the supermarket craft beers, but at least they are worth it.

    Have you tried anything fresh from FrauGruber, Blech.Brut, Fürst Wiacek or Brewheart for example? I just had a single-hop Nelson Sauvin DIPA from FrauGruber that was amazing.

    I think the main reason why so much of the supermarket stuff is substandard is simply because of what I mentioned earlier: margins. They are produced cheaply to raise those margins, probably using low-quality hops at low volumes.
    boddhitree likes this.
  12. jonb5

    jonb5 Meyvn (1,065) May 11, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Are people just drinking less beer in general? I was in REWE yesterday and there was a whole shopping trolley full of Becks that was reduced as it had reached its expiry date.

    When it comes to craft beer in Germany, I’ve always felt there’s too much beer sat on shelves which is priced higher than people are prepared to pay.

    I hope we’re not looking back in a few years time remembering those few years when there was actually a choice.
    Snowcrash000 likes this.
  13. drmeto

    drmeto Poo-Bah (1,689) Jan 29, 2015 Germany

    I had the Blech. Brut 23/04 recently, which was fantastic.

    As far as sales go, i think craft beer is gonna be solely move to online shops dedicated to craft drinkers.

    Too many craft beer drinkers are unreliable consumers.
    Buying craft beer by the sixpack will never become a thing in Germany.
    Most of them rarely repeatedly buy a certain brand, even if they like it.

    Discounters & bottle shops move beer by the crate or sixpack, not by the single bottle.
    boddhitree likes this.
  14. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (82) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I think craft beer can generally stand to be somewhat cheaper for the costumer - SN and Sam Adams have been very good in that regard providing high-quality beer that is also relatively easy on the wallet.

    A question for our German members: Is there a sense of regional loyalty among beer consumers (so, for example, if you’re from Württemberg you drink Bitburger, or Berliner Kindl if you’re a Berliner), as is the case in Austria?
    KS_Augsburg likes this.
  15. KS_Augsburg

    KS_Augsburg Initiate (186) Jul 29, 2018 Illinois
    Society Trader

    There is definitely regional loyalty - big time and rightfully so. Something that is somewhat similar to freshness in my view: beer does not travel well. Usually you have good chance of success when drinking beer from the region you are currently in. Especially in southern Germany (I am not so familiar with the central or eastern area), there are so many excellent local and regional breweries, it would be foolish to drink something from far far away if you get the great local stuff as fresh as it gets. One of my favorites times in Germany are Oktoberfest, Cannstatter Wasen, Starkbierzeit, etc. when you get specifically brewed seasonal beers locally and super fresh.
    BTW: Württemberger do not drink Bitburger!!!
  16. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (291) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Lots of moving pieces on craft beer in Germany, many different reasons which we have discussed at length here. Watching it progress (online) in Germany over the last few years, I was waiting for the one big brewery to make a GREAT pale ale - like SNPA. A sort of gateway brew. The Kellerbier wave is (I think) still in full swing, but it's just an unfiltered lager - nothing really groundbreaking for German beer drinkers.

    Otherwise, due to the limited distribution in established distribution channels, it will be hard for the small guy to become "popular". This especially true in the on-premise sales where you need money in the pay-to-play German beer market.
    boddhitree likes this.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,251) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    There is a fair bit of discussion about the ‘viability’ of the craft beer market segment in Germany in this thread:

    For example in a reply to one of my posts Greg Koch posted:

    “Americans were unwilling to pay the price of craft beer when we started. It was a BIG deal. But SOME were. And we, and other craft brewers, were able to build our businesses with the customers that saw the value equation. Many Germans also see this value equation. But not enough to sustain our bold move. Hindsight.

    Unfortunately, retailers will NOT take a beer with less than 6 or 9 months STILL left on the code dating. If an American sees a beer with 60 days left, they (generally) think “Great! That’s a fresh beer!” If a European sees a beer with 60 days left, they think “No way, that’s a beer that’s 10 months old!” Sure, we can put the “Packaged On” date, and we did, but retailers WILL NOT STOCK a beer that does not fit within their parameters. Perception is the game, not reality. It sucks, and makes for a system that provides less consumer knowledge.”

    So, it would appear that the number of German beer consumers who are willing to pay the necessary price for craft beer are too small at this moment in time.

    Also, when it comes to hoppy beers (e.g., IPAs) there is an issue about freshness/best by dates. German beer retailers (e.g., supermarkets) insist that the beers have long best by dates (e.g., 12 months) but needless to say this is not compatible for beers like IPAs which are best consumed in a much shorter period of time.

    If any of you have questions for Greg Koch concerning the Stone – Berlin venture (which is now owned by BrewDog) I would encourage you to participate on his thread.

  18. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,312) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    What is the "necessary" price though? That is the big question that Greg remained suspiciously silent on as well. Why is Stone IPA that is actually being brewed in Germany almost twice as expensive as it is in the USA?

    Why are shitty breweries like Craftwerk or Inselbrauerei that are obviously not using high quality ingredients charging 8€/l for their crappy beer? If these breweries spent less money on excessive marketing and buying up shelf space in supermarkets and more on quality hops then maybe they'd be able to offer better value for money and people would actually buy it.

    I'm perfectly happy spending 11€/l on quality beer from small microbreweries like FrauGruber or Blech.Brut, for example, but I'm sure as hell not paying even 8€/l on the kind of crap that Craftwerk or Inselbrauerei are pumping out. Unfortunately it's this crap that is most visible in the German craft beer market right now and it gives all of craft beer a bad name.

    EDIT: Look at Maisel & Friends, the only brewery in Germany offering their craft product in sixpacks for 3€/l and it's not even half bad. Are you telling me that Craftwerk (Bitburger) couldn't match that price? No, they are simply trying to charge "what the market will bear" and severly misjudged that price.

    Maybe if companies were charging what's fair instead of what the market will bear in the first place we'd all be better off.
    #18 Snowcrash000, Dec 5, 2019 at 3:13 PM
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019 at 3:22 PM
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,251) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am assuming that this question being posed to me is rhetorical since as you are well aware I am not privy to the financials of craft breweries.
    Perhaps this specific question is something that you could post in Greg's thread. He should know the answer to that specific question.

  20. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,312) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    I did and he ignored it.
  21. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (82) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Thank you, I find this really interesting.

    I had momentarily forgotten that something like Rothaus would be more appropriate for them than Bitburger.:grimacing: I suppose its main consumer base would be further down the Rhine, where the brewery actually is!
    KS_Augsburg likes this.
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,473) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Now I'm confused.

    If you're talking about Bitburger, It is in the city of Bitburg, in the Rhineland-Palatinate. It is not on the Rhein.

    Edit Bitburg is maybe 60 km as the crow flies from Koblenz.
  23. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (82) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I was trying to be figurative, speaking in the general direction the river flows, not that the brewery is on the Rhine. I thought in my first post that Bitburg was further south than it actually is. I guess I still wasn’t being clear.
  24. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,473) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    OK. Most don't know the Rhein flows generally to the North, Alps to Rotterdam.

    Bitburger has a strong presence in a good chunk of Hesse, but that is wine country, not too many breweries there.
  25. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (82) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    And that is where we find the confusion with the Bundesland of Lower Saxony!
  26. KS_Augsburg

    KS_Augsburg Initiate (186) Jul 29, 2018 Illinois
    Society Trader

    Rothaus is actually a very good brewery, in my opinion, they are quite small, with a limited range of offerings, but everything at a high level of quality (again: my opinion).
    Bitburger is indeed a little further north, and also one of the "Fernsehbiers", which means: big national brands.
  27. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,113) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    if it makes anyone feel any better over there, I'm seeing much of the same thing in the "craft" industry here: bottle shops and craft beer bars closing; declining share (as more and more places come online); and a trend by local distributors (esp AB InBev ones) toward pushing the least offensive/least interesting offerings to as many people as possible (mass appeal = higher volumes...and thus, margins?).

    also I know for a fact that these big distributors are incentivising selling such brands -- as well as new stuff like hard Seltzers -- among their reps. and those reps (who are craft beer fans too) are stepping up and running with it....

    some seismic stuff afoot it feels like. at least among the folks I talk to/deal with in the industry.
    #27 herrburgess, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:52 PM
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019 at 10:57 PM
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,251) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I wonder whether there is a lot of value comparing the craft beer market in the US with the craft beer market in Germany.

    As one point of example the number of craft beer breweries is increasing at a tremendous rate. At the moment there is well over 7,000 craft breweries in the US and very soon the number will exceed 8,000. As regards selling beer for consumers to take home and drink, more and more (and more) beer consumers are purchasing there craft beer directly from the small, local craft breweries (in the past growlers then crowlers and now more popularly in cans). If some bottle shops close this is not affecting to ability of craft beer consumers to purchase canned beers to bring home and drink.

    I have more beer available for sale from small, local craft breweries than I have money and time to purchase/consume. It is a very rapidly changing craft beer scene in the US (at least in my immediate area).

    jonb5 likes this.
  29. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (291) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Speaking of Stone it was interesting to see Stone Go To IPA (brewed at the Berlin brewery by, at this point I guess, BrewDog) launched this summer as a year round product at the Swedish monopoly at 13.90kr for 33cl, which is far below the standard price for Swedish craft beer at around 20kr or up for 33cl (that's for the largest craft breweries, among the smaller breweries the standard price is more like 24-30kr per 33cl). This fall they raised the price by one crown so now it's 14.90kr. Still it's significantly cheaper than average (there have been a few other releases at a lower price point, but since alcohol taxation is punitive here those brands tend to be lower abv beers at around 5%). 14.90kr, or 15kr, is about 1.42 Euro, so the liter price becomes about 4.28 Euro, and a theoretical six pack would cost 8.52 Euro (there's no volume discount and all beers are sold as singles). This is despite our taxes being as high as they are even for moderate abv beers, and the producer, importer and monopoly getting their cut on top of the taxes. If the same beer was sold in Germany I would have to imagine that they could shave some cents off that price with its significantly lower taxes (taxation is of course based on the OG rather than abv in Germany, but the effect is the same), so I see no reason why they couldn't sell beers of higher gravities/abvs for similar prices. I also took note of Koch noting in the thread that Go To IPA was an expensive beer to brew, though there's no ruling out recipe differences between the US and European version.

    Of course there's often a difference between what could be done and what a brewery wants to do (Koch made it clear that he is not looking to be a value brand in craft, yet ironically here Go To IPA is a value thanks to the relative price difference), but I still find it interesting. One thing which I have wondered about is how the pricing of craft in Europe impacts how it is sold, how much craft beer is actually sold in six packs, or twelve packs (in markets where this is/could be done, here it's all singles as I mentioned). The pricing strategies of alot of breweries here seem similar to the wine industry where they price it for purchase as singles, that must impact the velocity of sales I imagine, with people picking up single bottles rather than sixpacks or twelve packs. I imagine that six packs and twelve packs at least make up a significantly larger portion of the package mix in the US for craft compared with in various European markets.

    Here are a few examples of prices for well known imports for comparison:
    Budweiser: 13.90kr (33cl)
    Pabst Blue Ribbon: 14.90kr (35.5cl)
    Corona Extra: 18.40kr (33cl)
    #29 Crusader, Dec 6, 2019 at 5:49 AM
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019 at 6:03 AM
    jonb5, Snowcrash000, einhorn and 2 others like this.
  30. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (291) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Late edit: Corona Extra is apparently 35.5cl.
  31. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (291) Nov 3, 2005 California

    Rothaus brews annually about 700,000 bbls per year, which puts them at (ballpark) close to top 20 brewery in Germany. They have the volume to be a "Fernsehbier" but they choose not to do much advertising.
    steveh likes this.
  32. boddhitree

    boddhitree Zealot (519) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    I'm not sure how they managed it, but they've got nation-wide distribution and are prominently displayed in all supermarkets shelves on the top or middle shelves, save the discounters such as Aldi & Lidl.
    einhorn and JackHorzempa like this.