Production of beer in Ireland fell 46% between 2020 and last year, according to new research by Drinks Ireland | Beer, the second consecutive year in which it decreased.

Hospitality venues closed here and abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions created challenging conditions for brewers based in Ireland, the analysis found.

Sales also fell last year, down 1.3% overall, with consumption on a per capita basis dropping 2.3%.

"Today's report illustrates the significant impact the pandemic continued to have on Irish brewers last year, with production particularly hit," said Peter Mosley, Managing Director of the Porterhouse Brewing Company and Chair of Drinks Ireland | Beer.

"There were some signs of early recovery, as consumers returned to the on-trade in the second half of the year."

"Prior to Covid just over 60% of beer sales were in Ireland’s pubs, restaurants, and hotels. In 2020 an estimated 29% of beer sales were from the hospitality sector, but this rose to 46% in 2021."

The Irish Beer Market Report also shows that beer worth €246m was exported in 2021, 3% less than the previous year when exports also decreased.

The largest amount was sent to Great Britain, with the US the second most popular overseas market.

Despite the reductions in production, sales and exports, beer remains Ireland’s most popular drink.

Because it is mostly drunk in pubs, stout sales suffered considerably during the pandemic, but recovered last year by 6.9% to 32.2% of overall market share.

However, sales of lager, which rose as people consumed beer at home during restrictions in 2020, decreased again last year by 8.3%.

While non-alcoholic beer sales increased from 1.1% to 1.5% in 2021.

Overall though, consumption of beer fell 9.6% over the past three years and is 30% below the peak in 2001.

"Following two of the most challenging years for the brewing sector and the ongoing issue of spiraling business costs, we are calling for an excise reduction in this year's Budget," said Jonathan McDade, Director of Drinks Ireland|Beer.

"This would enable more investment and innovation within the sector. It would also benefit hard pressed consumers, facing rising cost of living pressures."