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Watch: Graph shows how one event made Ireland the leading beer consumers in the world

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Ireland has remained one of the largest consumers of beer on a per capita basis since an explosion of beer drinking during the Celtic Tiger era in the 1990s.

Figures from Ranking Royals suggest beer drinking in Ireland rose steadily from 1962 (58.2 litres per capita) when the country had the 12th-highest annual beer consumption in the world.

Beer consumption increased to around 84.3 litres per person by the end of the 1970s before plateauing and then receding until the mid-1980s, at which point consumption rose rapidly, reaching around 97 litres per person by 1990.

By 1996, Ireland was the largest consumer of beer in the world at around 183 litres per capita, quickly establishing a significant lead over the second-placed Czech Republic (157 litres per capita), which the country extended until the turn of the millennium.

Beer consumption in Ireland dropped precipitously in 2004 from more than 200 litres per person to approximately 150 litres per person, and consumption levels over the next decade declined as the world lead toggled between Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Irish consumption reached a recent low of 117 litres per capita in 2016 and rose above 120 litres per person at the end of the last decade before returning to around 116.3 litres per capital in 2021.

The Czech Republic remains the largest consumer of beer in the world at 140.1 litres per capital, and the top five is completed by Austria (110.5l), Croatia (95.8l) and Poland (91.5l).

However, figures from Drinks Ireland, the drinks sector group within Ibec, estimated per capital beer consumption at 71.2 litres in 2022, a 15.4% increase from 2021 (61.7 litres)

The latest Revenue data show beer sales increased 18.5% in 2022. Per capita consumption of beer has declined 7.8% since 2019, however, and 30% in the past 20 years.

Beer remains Ireland’s favourite alcoholic drink and retains a 43.5% share of the market, up from 40.2% in 2021, and beer sales in pubs, restaurants and hotels made up nearly two-thirds of sales (63.5%) two years ago.

Within the beer market, lager made up 58.8% of sales and stout just over a third (34.7%) while ale’s share dropped to 4.8%. Non-alcoholic beer, meanwhile, accounted for 1.7% of all sales, a four-fold increase from five years earlier.

In terms of Irish beer production, stout made up 72.6% of output in 2022, highlighting the dominance of Guinness within the sector, while lager (22.8%) and ale (4.6%) made up the remainder.

Beer production in Ireland more than doubled year-on-year (+110%) to nearly 8.1m hectolitres while beer exports increased 14% to €280m.

Beer contributed €390m in excise receipts in 2022, up from €351m in 2021 but still below the pre-Covid high of €430m in 2018.

(Pic: Joaquin Gomez Sastre/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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