Loss on Danish Christmas beer ahead

The holiday season is upon us, and thus a brief story related to this season filled with joy and pleasure should be in its place. However, the bulletin from our regular contributor Louis Honoré of the Danish Brewers’ Association below is not one of joy and happiness. This year, Danish brewers are left with significant volumes of Christmas beer – a phenomenon that amounts to up to more than 30% of the annual turnover for Danish craft breweries – which they can’t sell before Christmas. The reason, of course, is corona restrictions on the on-trade sector.

Louis Honoré

By Louis Honoré, Head of Communications, Danish Brewers’ Association (lih@bryggeriforeningen.dk)


The good news is that Danish breweries have never offered beer lovers more different Christmas beers to choose from – 402 is the record number of 2020. The bad news is that the breweries expect to be left with Christmas beer on their hands in January. They are also preparing themselves for a troublesome spring.

Back in the beginning of November, half of the Danish breweries predicted that they would not be able to sell all their traditional Christmas beer, according to a members survey carried out by Danish Brewers’ Association. Since then, the situation has worsened significantly for one of their main sales channels, as restaurants, bars and cafés in half of Denmark were forced to close completely on December 9th due to government restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“Even before this closure, the sales were limited by a mandatory closing time of 10 pm in restaurants, bars and cafés and by a ban on gatherings of more than ten persons. Now things get a lot worse”, says CEO of Danish Brewers’ Association Niels Hald, who is puzzled by the comprehensive lockdown of the restaurant sector, because it has not been a source of significant outbreak of corona illness – probably as a result of loyal compliance by the sector to the authorities’ demands and guidelines to fight the infection.

Unfortunately, the outlook for the spring is also quite hazy.

”Our storage rooms are filled with malt and hops, and we are ready to brew. But we are very unsure how hard to step on the accelerator. Because we don’t have a clue about the severity of the restrictions in a few months”, says Martin Thomsen, CEO of the brewery Nørrebro Bryghus.

The Danish breweries fear ending up with either too much or too little beer at springtime.

“It certainly doesn’t make it easier that a large part of the retail sector demands that beer must have at least 75% time left of its declared shelf life (best before date) when it is delivered to the shops”, says CEO Henning Fuglsang of the regional brewery Fuglsang in Haderslev.

Worst hit by the corona crisis are Danish breweries with sales in Copenhagen and other major cities which lack foreign tourists. For an example, Brewpub, which has its own brewery in the center of the capital city, has experienced a drop of 82% in foreign card payments in the period July-October 2020.