It seems that Germany too is seeing pub closures on a grand scale, which tends to make one think this is not just a British problem and not one, in Germany's case at least, that can be blamed on a smoking ban. (Germany allows its states to decide and due to that has only limited smoking bans and even those are fairly recent.)
According to The Local, the total number of places to sit and drink a beer in Germany sank from nearly 48,000 in 2001 to 36,000 in 2010. That's a loss of nearly a quarter. The state of Hamburg lost an amazing 48% of its drinking establishments in that time and as anyone who has been to Hamburg recently can attest, getting a drink in the City Centre is not that easy. There just isn't many pubs any more. Booming Berlin spectacularly bucked the trend though, with a 95.8% increase though over that period, I'd guess most of that increase will be in former East Berlin, which is now awash with little bars to satisfy both locals and the soaring tourist trade. (Berlin ironically, is still one of the cheapest European capitals to visit.)
The effects on communities is being recognised too: “With the closure of the public house, an establishment with a high social and cultural worth is lost from the community,” said Florian Kohnle, cultural geographer at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.
Don't look here for any solutions is all I'd say! German beer tax is already way lower than here.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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