UK Heat Wave Dries Up Lager Supplies; German Beer Sales Rebound

UK brewer Carlsberg-Tetley has been forced to cope with short supplies of its lager beers by importing additional supplies of lager from the parent brewery in Denmark, in order to meet increased demand caused by the Great Heat Wave of summer 2003. The brewer’s request for additional backup supplies was deemed necessary, even though it is working around the clock to produce some 3,000 pints every minute. The UK’s lager consumption is reportedly up by around 40% over the past two months.

The heat wave of 2003 is also having effects across Germany. That country’s brewers have been battling a seven-year trend of lower beer sales, and 2003’s first-half sales were terrible. Now, they find themselves with a new problem – beer sales are robust, and consumers are worried about shortages. “Brewers are working around the clock. Overtime is common, people are working weekends, and breweries are on triple shifts,” said Erich Deterichs, managing director of the German Beer Brewers Association. Interbrew’s Beck’s brewing plant announced delivery delays, and newspapers have run front-page stories forecasting a beer shortage. Deterichs said Germans should not worry. “Perhaps a person’s preferred brand will be sold out, but no one has to fear that beer as a whole will run out in Germany,” he said. Consumption was down 4.4% in the first half of this year, in part because of a new bottle and can deposit law, but sales jumped 9.3% in June compared with year-earlier levels. “The weather has skyrocketed overall demand. There is no better alcoholic thirst quencher than beer,” said Jochen Schmitt of the Berliner-Schultheiss Brewery in the German capital.