World Beer Production Between 1913 and 1934

Polish Interwar Brewing and Malt Review

I’ve been talking for a while of helpful articles in the interwar Polish brewing journal, Przegląd Piwowarsko-Słodowniczy, or Brewing and Malt Review.

Ron Pattinson has had a go at some of the data, and maybe others will too. I find the journal of particular interest for a number of reasons. Representing a smaller brewing country, developments elsewhere attracted local attention: scientific, technological, malt and hop production, beer production, excise systems.

There is a theoretical focus in the journal: lots of articles on fermentation, yeast science, hop characteristics, and other lab-based analyses or discussions.

A fairly austere tone prevails, in general. This reflects I think an old-school Continental approach, but perhaps also Polish academic conventions of the time.

British journals of the period seem more informal in tone, and American equally or more. American journals – some did continue during Prohibition – show a steady focus on the business of brewing.

Articles regularly appeared on how to save money, how especially to advertise, new product development, and other can-do strategies.

The Polish journal seems less focused on such areas although they are addressed implicitly by supplier advertisements. Equipment fabricators, hop suppliers, and dealers in enamels, cleansers, disinfectants and more trump their wares.

On the other hand, the Polish journal also carried historical pieces. The Journal of the Institute of Brewing in Britain occasionally did, but the American journals, rarely, by my canvass.

World Beer Production Between 1913 and 1934

So here is a useful table, from the September 1935 issue, dealing with beer production on a world scale for the years shown. A column is included for 1913, the year before the Great War, which makes it even more interesting.



Output is expressed in 1000s of hl.

One can see for Poland (Polska) in 1929, 2,786,000 hl which shows indeed, as I discussed the other day, that by 1937 production had fallen by half. The prewar and 1920 figures are omitted as Poland’s Second Republic hadn’t yet taken shape, and the data didn’t match up.

Just looking at the top three countries, U.S., Germany, Great Britain, significant fall-offs occurred between 1913 and 1934. Belgium is down somewhat, France actually up but not by a great deal.

And so on for each country, easy to see at a glance how they fared.

Whys and Wherefores of Decline

The toll of war and world economic slump was a big part of this story, yet in addition, changing consumption patterns had to play a role.

Beer increasingly had less of a place in industrialized, and industrializing, countries. This was due to changing habits of work and evolving conceptions of health, even fashion, e.g., slimness was increasingly valued.

This is a generalization: beer obviously gained a greater following in some countries, particularly where a beer tradition was not prevalent. Parts of southern Europe come to mind, and the Soviet Union.

A methodical study of this issue on a global basis would be a rewarding study.












2 thoughts on “World Beer Production Between 1913 and 1934”

  1. The increase in beer production in France (from before WWI to soon after) could be attributable to France’s acquisition of (previously German) Alsace Lorraine after the war.


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