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Hungarian Beer Gaining Popularity in Asia

Hungary Today 2023.07.01.

Beer, one of the favorite drinks enjoyed by Hungarians, is produced in large quantities in Hungary. Just think of the most popular brands: Pécsi Szalon, Borsodi, Dreher, Kőbányai. Brewing is one of the oldest sectors of  the Hungarian food industry, but industrial beer production was relatively slow to develop, reports Magyar Nemzet.

Brewing beer in Hungary was a small-scale craft until the 18th century, and the emergence of larger breweries had to wait until the end of the 17th century, according to an article by the Oeconomus Economic Research Foundation.


In the early days, outside manor houses, brewing was mainly carried out by pub owners, involving their families. Those who wanted to set up their own brewery could buy the right to do so from the larger towns or had to own a town house. This was not easy, as the urban structure of the cities and narrow streets meant that fires from breweries were common, so city councils rarely granted the right to brew.

The 1843 Industrial Law made it possible to import beer and brew it freely in Pest in 1843, after payment of a sales tax. Eleven years later, the Kőbánya Brewing Society was founded.

The brewery was opened by Péter Schmidt, an entrepreneur who had studied in Munich. In 1862, it was bought by Antal Dreher, and the Dreher Brewery was essentially established.

Dreher Brewery. Photo via Dreher Sörgyárak

In the countryside in Pécs, in 1848, Sámuel Hirschfeld founded the predecessor of what is known today as the Pécsi Szalon Brewery, and in 1895, the First Sopron Brewery and Malt Factory was founded, which has been part of the Heineken Group since 2003. The First World War, the economic depression between the two wars and the changed world order brought about by the Second World War transformed the beer industry. In 1949, and afterwards, breweries were taken over by the state, and it was not until the late 1980s, that they were able to operate independently again. At that time, however, the strong expansion of large foreign companies led to the internationalization of the breweries.

The four major domestic breweries – Dreher, Borsodi, Sopron, and the Pécsi Szalon – are now mostly in the hands of foreign owners.

Changes in foreign trade of beer. Photo via Oeconomus Economic Research Foundation

The combined sales of the large domestic brewers in 2021, were 6,370 million hecto-liters, 3.1 percent higher than in 2020. Domestic production in 2021, was 5,568 million hecto-liters, an increase of 3.5 percent year-on-year. The year 2020, was mainly bad for beer producers due to restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic.

The biggest concern, at the moment, is the rise in production costs across industries. This is mainly due to the drastic increase in energy prices.

Both annual and monthly average consumer prices for the two most consumed beers in the country, lagers and IPAs, have also risen.

23 thousand liter kettles at the Dreher brewery. Photo via Dreher Sörgyárak

According to data from 2021, Hungarian beers are mainly destined for EU Member States (80.46 percent), but the growing trade with East Asian countries is noteworthy. In 2014, China accounted for only 0.71 percent of Hungary’s beer exports, but by 2021, 10.6 percent of beer exports were destined for the Asian country. The volume of Hungarian beer exported to South Korea is similarly high, accounting for 8.94 percent of total beer exports in 2021.

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Via Magyar Nemzet, Featured image via Pexels

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