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A few weeks ago, we lamented the absence of a traditional German beer garden in DC. Now, based on new numbers released by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office, perhaps we should be more concerned about saving the original beer gardens in the Fatherland. Germans are notorious for their thirst for suds, but could this just be an antiquated stereotype? (Based on our trip to Oktoberfest last fall, the answer would be no, but then again most of those folks were Irish and Australians… Man, can they drink!)
German breweries sold 1.3 billion gallons of beer in the first half of this year—about 60 billion gallons, or about 4.5 percent, less than during the same period last year. This is the poorest showing the German beer industry since 1991, the first year in which figures were kept. The reason? According to Peter Hahn of the German Brewery Association, the lagging sales numbers are the result of an aging population that drinks less and smoking bans that have discouraged those chimney Germans from hitting the bars so much. Hahn (apparently Germany’s answer to Milli Vanilli) even blames it on the rain, saying that abnormally high precipitation this year has meant fewer nights spent at outdoor beer gardens and neighborhood barbecues.