The Most Popular Beer In The UK

March 12, 2024

The U.K. has a large drinking culture; this is a fact that can not be denied, and as a British citizen, it is something I can personally attest to. How else should we overcome the fact that we only have around three weeks of good weather a year? 

Bad jokes aside, though, this has led to a few questions between the team here at Prolific London, and we were wondering what the nation’s favourite pint was to have pulled at the local pub or bought from the supermarket shelves. So, as usual, we did some research, and we have all the information for you right away!

Beer Consumption Trends in the U.K

The annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI) for beer in the U.K. peaked at 107.2 in 2021, marking a continuous increase since 2016. Despite fluctuations, the U.K.’s annual beer consumption remains substantial, amounting to around 46.1 million hectoliters. Over the past decade, consumer spending on beer has steadily risen, with notable surges observed in 2020, surpassing price increases by a significant margin and maintaining high spending levels in subsequent years.

From 2004 to 2016, the U.K. witnessed a decline in annual beer sales, followed by a gradual increase until 2020. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp drop in beer sales, resulting in nearly four million fewer barrels sold. Consequently, beer production in the U.K. decreased significantly during the pandemic’s initial year. Nevertheless, by 2021, beer production volumes had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, reaching almost 38.4 million hectoliters. Additionally, the number of beer manufacturing enterprises in the U.K. has more than doubled since 2008, totalling 1,359 establishments.

Which Beer Sells Best

So now, to answer the question, we all want the answer. What is the top-selling beer in the U.K.? In 2023, Stella Artois emerged as the top-selling beer brand in the United Kingdom (U.K.), generating approximately £233 million in beer sales during the 12 months ending in March. A staggering number! Following behind was Budweiser, which recorded £136 million in retail revenue in 2022, so Stella had Bud beat by a significant number.

A Bit About The Brand

The Den Hoorn brewery in Leuven traces its roots back to 1366 when it operated as a tavern brewing its beer, symbolized by a hunting horn. In 1708, Sébastien Artois assumed the role of head brewer, eventually purchasing the brewery in 1717 and renaming it Brouwerij Artois.

In 1926, Brouwerij Artois introduced Stella as a Christmas beer inspired by the Christmas star. Initially offered seasonally, it became a year-round staple, with exports to the broader European market starting in 1930. However, production was temporarily halted during World War II due to operational suspensions.

By 1960, Stella Artois boasted an annual production volume of approximately 400 million litres (100 million U.S. gallons). In 1976, Whitbread began brewing Stella Artois under contract in the United Kingdom, further expanding its reach. Having a brewery set up in the U.K. helped push sales forward because the goods are not imported into the U.K. This is still done but is marketed at a higher price because it is imported. 

In conclusion, Stella Artois is currently number one in the U.K. These things do tend to fluctuate, though, so it will be interesting to see if any of the old brands can keep pace with them next year or if there is a rising star waiting to take the U.K by storm. 

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