How the wine-loving French are falling for the delights of beer

The Local France
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How the wine-loving French are falling for the delights of beer
Photo: AFP

Beer for an aperitif is no longer taboo. France is a country far more typically known for its wines and liqueurs, but the French are turning their attention to beer, with sales of the frothy tipple booming.


Forget the un verre de vin rouge, s’il vous plait, the new trend is to ask for une demi de biere instead.

Yes, the French have developed a strong thirst for the frothy stuff in recent years, bringing an end to the 36-year long decline in beer consumption. 

In fact, 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year of increases in beer sales across the country, with supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants reporting a 2.7 percent increase in the volume of beer sold. Larger retailers reported an increase of 8.1 percent. 

“The popularity growth of beer in France might seem astonishing to people from other countries that already have a strong beer culture, but you have to realise that beer has had a bad image in France for a long time,” Jacqueline Lariven, spokesperson at Brasseurs de France brewers' union, told The Local. 

She said that a large part of the change was thanks to the new breweries popping up left right and centre across the country.

“We’re expecting 300 to open in 2018, everything from the tiny breweries in markets to those that are backed by big investors,” she said, adding that over the past five years the numbers of breweries in France has doubled to 1,200 in total. 

And the typical customer is changing too, experts say. 

“There’s been a feminisation of consumption. We can’t say that women don’t drink beer anymore, it’s simply not the case,” Laviren added.

She put the change down to new packaging of beers that appear more feminine, plus a more diverse range of tastes. 

“This innovation has prompted a change in consumption, it’s more common now to drink beer as an aperitif, for example,” she added.

The new tastes of beer on the market are a huge factor in growth, in fact, not to mention the changes in alcohol content. 

Joao Abecasis, the president of the Kronenbourg-Carlsberg group, said the French were keen to deviate from the traditional light beers. 

“The growth is thanks to specialty beer, those that are a little more sophisticated,” he told Le Figaro newspaper

He pointed to non-alcoholic beers, aromatised beers, and artisanal beers, which have seen a growth of around 11 percent nationwide and currently represent around 27 percent of the beer bought in France. 

And the non-alcoholic beer sales could boom, if neighbouring countries are anything to go by.

“Alcohol-free beer makes up 2 percent of the market in France, and 4 percent of the Kronenbourg market,” Abecasis said, adding that it was closer to 10 percent in Germany and Spain. 

“We could double this in the coming years. For so long, alcohol-free beer had a negative image,” he said.

While beer consumption is certainly on the rise, France is still trailing the vast majority of Europe when it comes to beer drinking - in fact, only the Italians drink less beer. 

The typical French person takes in 32 litres of beer each year - two litres more than they did four years ago. 

And the biggest consumers of beer in France are those in Normandy, followed by those in the Grand Est and Brittany.

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If you're looking for the best pubs around your area in France to join in the beer-drinking trend, why not check out our interactive map here

READ ALSO: Interactive map: Where to find the best pubs around France


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