When it comes to food pairing, beer is the new wine

Irish consumers expect more choice and more non-alcoholic options in the beer segment, new research says

New research suggests that Irish consumers love pairing beer with food, giving rise to the new perception that "beer is the new wine" in the way that people create, consume and discuss it in very specific terms.

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30 October 2018 | 0

Lager is Ireland’s favourite beer variant, according to a new survey conducted by the Irish Brewers Association (IBA). 45% of respondents said it is their preferred choice. India pale ale (IPA) is the nation’s second favourite beer variant with a 22% share, while stout received an 11% share.

The survey was conducted on TheTaste.ie on behalf of the IBA, with over 1,300 respondents taking part. It aimed to explore the drinking preferences of beer consumers in Ireland, including where and what they drink.

With around 100 microbreweries now operating around the country, there is more choice than ever and many consumers are now choosing beer in restaurants and bars to consume with food.  According to the research, 51% of beer drinkers either always or often pair beer with food when eating out. Furthermore, 45% of beer drinkers say there is not enough choice of beer on restaurant menus.

The survey found that for 40% of people, their favourite beer drinking experience is in a pub with friends. Almost 16% prefer drinking at home with family and 15% prefer a barbecue.

The research also showed that many consumers change their beer of choice throughout the year. Some 45% of beer drinkers either always or often change beer preferences, with 43% changing due to seasonal factors.

There has also been a rise in the number of low and non-alcohol beer products on the market in the past few years, again giving consumers more choice. The demand is there for more options to be made available, with 57% of respondents saying they’d like to see more availability of non-alcoholic beer.

Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association said that what is really exciting is to see the increase diversity in the sector. “There is a huge amount of Irish-made beer products now available on the market,” he said. “It’s also interesting to see how consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their beer choices and are often pairing their beer with food in restaurants. Like the French with wine and the Germans with beer, we should be proud of this home-grown sector.

“I hope to continue to see plenty of new beer products come to the market in 2019 and continue to offer beer drinkers a wide range of choice,” McDade said.

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