According to a survey, beer consumption in China has more than doubled in the last decade, a sure sign of rising economic prosperity.
In 2006 alone, Chinese firms produced 35 million kiloliters (9.2 billion gallons), up 14.7 percent from the previous year and accounting for some one fifth of global beer production, according to Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings.
The amount reflected a 109-percent increase over the past 10 years, while global beer production rose 33.6 percent to 170 million kiloliters in the same period, said a Kirin study.
"Since overtaking the United States as the top beer producer in 2002, China has maintained its position and showed double-digit growth in 2006," the study said.
"In addition to the improving quality of life in China, resulting from the strong eonomy, the culture of beer drinking has spread from the coastal areas to inner regions," the study said.
While much of the world is alarmed by global warming, Kirin suggested that climate change may be helping global beer consumption.
"The general recovery of the global economy as well as increasing temperatures are believed to be the main drivers of the increasing production," it said.
Beer consumption rose particularly in nations with rapid economic growth, while industrial nations saw either moderate growth or shrinking production, it said.
In the United States, the second largest beer brewer, production grew only 0.2 percent to 23.2 million kiloliters, while third-ranked German production fell 0.5 percent year on year to 10.7 million kiloliters.
Production in seventh-ranked Japan also fell by 0.4 percent, amid a falling birthrate, ageing population and increasing choices of beverages, Kirin said.
On the other hand, in the past decade, beer production in Russia and Ukraine nearly quadrupled, while Thai and Vietnamese production jumped by 158 percent and 212 percent respectively, Kirin said.