If you troll the beer blogs, or read The Times, you may have come across beer writer Roger Protz’s assertion the other day regarding the state of British beer:
On reading this at Alan’s blog, I was struck by the rather extraordinary nature of the claim, and emailed Roger directly to see whether it was a simple misquote, an overstating for media effect, or what. Here’s how he replied:
My rationale is that, yes, Britain does have more breweries per head than any other country (excluding Denmark and New Zealand, with tiny populations). I was at pains to stress in media interviews that I wasn’t claiming that British beer is better than, say, Belgian, Czech or German beer, but that the choice and diversity now available here is quite astonishing. I wasn’t waving a jingo flag because that’s anathema to me, but was stressing the facts in a bald way to a media that is generally hostile to beer and pubs.
That made sense to me, except for the bit about Britain having the most breweries per capita. Surely, I thought, brewing powerhouse Germany must have more. So I ran the numbers:
- Population of the United Kingdom: 61 million
- Number of Breweries: 711
- Population of Germany: 82 million
- Number of Breweries: 1250 (more or less)
- British population per brewery: 85,794
- German population per brewery: 65,600
Granted, Germany has been experiencing a good number of brewery closures of late, while Britain’s brewing industry has been growing, but that would still mean the German number would have had to drop by over 20% to 956 breweries in order to equal the U.K. count. And I somehow doubt that has happened.
Does any of this matter? Not in the slightest. As Roger further noted in his email, the latest Good Beer Guide has been receiving unprecedented media coverage, just as we’ve seen craft beer become very “in” of late on this side of the pond. And if you care about what’s in your glass, that’s great news all around!