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SABMiller issues report on European beer drinking habits

2 May 2008

Barman pouring a beer

6:14pm is British ‘Beer O’clock’ as hard working Brits say no to lunchtime drinking

Download the Time for a Beer Report PDF 3.06Mb

‘Time For a Beer?’ – a new report examining European drinking habits from SABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewers – has revealed for the first time that ‘Beer O’clock’ in the UK is 6.14pm. After a hard day’s work the British enjoy their first beer later than most in Europe with only 1 in 10 now heading for a lunchtime pint.

The survey of beer drinkers in fifteen countries shows that with volumes of consumption rising in many nations, beer plays a central role in our social lives, but the British beer lover doesn’t mix business and pleasure. On a week night from Monday to Thursday we put work first with more than two thirds (68%) having their last drink at 11pm or earlier.

With an eighth of Brits working up to 48 hours a week* we enjoy our first beer later than drinkers in continental Europe. As well as cultural differences the report also provides an insight into how our own beer culture has changed in recent years. For some old habits die hard, as the older generation (45+) enjoy Beer O’clock earlier at 5.49pm - over half an hour before their younger counterparts, but with an average 9.32pm drinking up time they are also earlier to bed by an hour and a half.

Dr Paul Jennings, social historian lecturing at the University of Bradford and author of ‘The Local: A History of the English Pub’ commented:

"According to a number of studies in recent years, the British work some of the longest hours in Europe, and white collar workers have seen the biggest increase in their working hours due to changes in Great Britain’s economic make up. As we have moved from a manufacturing base to a service-led, internationally focused economy, we are now tied to our desks for longer. This doesn’t just apply to working later – the whole cultural shift away from stopping for lunch is further evidenced by the decrease in lunchtime drinking shown in this report.”

Other findings include:
The landmark survey of 7,500 Europeans also confirms that Saturday is our favourite night for a beer with 59% relaxing in the pub, a restaurant or at home with a drink, closely followed by post-work drinks on a Friday (48%). Yet, British people are now amongst the least likely to drink during the week in Europe. Wednesday is Britain’s favourite night for a midweek beer although only 28% of us enjoy a drink compared with Spain where 47% of those surveyed pick up a beer on a Tuesday – their week night of choice.

Amongst some of the other Europe-wide findings were:

  • The Danes are first to the bar with Beer O’clock at 4.41pm
  • For an early night head to France with the last beer drunk at 8.33pm
  • Beer loving Germans are last to bed with the final beer drunk at 10.59pm
  • Almost a quarter of Danes (24%) enjoy a lunchtime drink
  • The Czechs are Europe’s biggest beer lovers with just under two thirds (65%) saying that it is their favourite alcoholic drink

The Time For a Beer report gives a fascinating, and often surprising insight, into how beer drinking culture influences our social lives across Europe,” said Nigel Fairbrass, spokesperson for SABMiller.

“Beer O’clock at 6.14pm demonstrates how the idea of swift pint at early doors is a distant memory, as we work longer and longer hours; and with just ten percent finding time for a beer between 12-1.30pm it appears that last orders have been called for lunchtime drinking.”

For more information about the report please visit


*Labour Force Survey statistics

Notes to editors


SABMiller plc is one of the world’s largest brewers with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across six continents. The group’s brands include premium international beers such as Pilsner Urquell, Miller Genuine Draft, Grolsch and Peroni Nastro Azzurro, as well as an exceptional range of market leading local brands.

SABMiller plc is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.

For more information on SABMiller, please visit

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Bianca Shevlin
Corporate Media Relations Manager,
SABMiller plc
Tel: +44 20 7659 0172

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