When in Rome, drink the local beer

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 4th January 2011

Local flavour is the preferred beer of travellers and locals alike, with both tourists and residents preferring to drink local brews.

In research conducted by SABMiller during this year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa, some 87% of visiting fans said that, when travelling abroad, they want to try different beers and steer clear of brands from their own country. The majority of the 700 people polled from 30 different countries expressed a preference for locally produced beers which add to the cultural experience of their trip.

The findings are backed up by figures which demonstrate the local nature of beer around the world, with only 6% of global beer volumes drunk outside their market of origin. In the UK and the US, there has been a resurgence of interest in local beers, with record numbers of small breweries opening. In the US alone there are some 1600 craft breweries, the most since prohibition was repealed in 1937. In the UK there are now 700 breweries, the most since the First World War.

Nigel Fairbrass from SABMiller said: “Beer is at the heart of many of the rituals, traditions, sayings and places that shape the distinct societies we recognise today. It is logical, therefore, that it can play an important role in helping visitors to immerse themselves in a new culture.”

When asked why they would choose to drink a local beer brand in a foreign country, 70% of respondents said that they did so because it is a crucial part of the overall travel experience, whilst 27% felt that it is important to support the economy of the place you are visiting and 25% said it was because they wanted to try something new.

Pete Brown, intrepid beer writer, said: “Wherever you go in the world, while you increasingly see the same global brands in every country, the beers people drink are still different. It’s a double win for the beer drinker, because at home you can be proud of your own beer, and when you go abroad beer becomes a way in which you can explore the differences in tastes, styles and customs, making for a much deeper, richer experience. I’ve certainly found that on my travels and it’s nice to see some research proving it’s true.”

The research also showed that local beers have an important role to play back on home turf too; 63% of respondents said that when at home they also choose to drink a local beer brand.

SABMiller has over 200 local brands in its portfolio, including Grolsch (first brewed in the Netherlands 1615), Castle (South Africa, 1895), Dreher (Hungary, 1854). Tyskie (Poland, 1629), Arequipena (Peru, 1898).