Switzerland is known for its watches, its chocolate, Roger, but not only! Among its specificities, it is the country with the most breweries per inhabitant (1 brewery for about 6600 souls compared to for example 1 for 200'000 in the USA or Italy). But why? Why? Are we just more alcoholic than the others?....
Historically, before the beer cartel, almost every town had its own brewery and brewing production was local. As a result, we can surely partly explain the enthusiasm of our fellow citizens to revive the spirit of traditional breweries by a desire to return to their roots.
And then again, we have money in Switzerland! So Mr. Everyone (or almost everyone, because we know that life is not easy for everyone) has the time, space and means to have fun brewing beer in their spare time and to experiment to have fun.
Okay, okay, we have the tradition and the money... but we're not the only ones in this case. So why is Switzerland at the top of the ranking?
As we all know, among the Swiss specificities, there is also our love of order: everything is well classified, arranged and... taxed. According to the legislation in force, brewers whose production does not exceed 400l, who produce with personal equipment in their own household and for their personal consumption, are exempt from the obligation to register and therefore exempt from paying taxes. This means that even amateur brewers producing very small quantities are counted as breweries in the official statistics. This threshold is very low in international comparison and explains our first step on the podium.
If the main reason for this high number of breweries is indeed the obligation to register from 4 hl, we must not forget another one: the possibility to register and this in a ridiculously easy way. 100 to 150 homebrewers producing less than 4 hl and finding it extremely fun to appear on an official list enjoy this.
In conclusion, without our immoderate love of tax and order, we would be in the average (e. g. Germany 1 for 60,000, United Kingdom 1 for 80,000). So let's stop blowing ourselves up by imagining Switzerland as the country where artisanal breweries would abound more than elsewhere. Moreover, for the record, in the United States we refer to as a craft beer any brewery that brews up to twice the national consumption of Switzerland...
ps: for those who would be interested in our thoughts on beer taxation, it's here.
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