More than half my life ago, I spent a month or so doing nothing very productive in Paris. A friend had gotten into a post-grad course there and, for some reason, it sounded like a good idea for a gang of us to hole up there ensuring his inevitable academic failure. We sat in bistro half most days getting over or creating the conditions for horrendous hangovers. Or both. I recall we didn't go much for the beer when we were out due to the price. Cheap grocery store wine was our thing. I never claimed I was clever as a yute. Sounds like things are getting worse for bistros according to this excellent story at Deutsche Welle:
About a third of the beer drunk in France is French. Kronenburg mainly. Another Alsace beer. The cheapest. Now, having a demi - the more-or-less half pint measure that people drink here - is going to become a little more expensive. Six euro cents more expensive, says the government. More like 60, say the breweries and the cafe owners. For whom it's not just the money - it's the principle of the thing. Because this is a tax that is hitting the poor. The poor, of course, used to drink wine. Peasants would drink liters of the stuff. Each French soldier on active duty in 1914 was given a quarter of a liter of wine a day. What were the lot on the other side drinking I wonder? Beer I don't doubt. In that war, though, France won back Alsace-Lorraine and, with it, its breweries. And now, the French poor - who no longer have to go to war, plough the fields or, for increasing numbers of them, do anything at all - drink beer. When they're not drinking Fanta.
Belgium is apparently ticked off with the issue being raised at the highest political level as, if I have my math right, 20% of Belgian beer production is downed in France. Like the rest of the western world, modernity has shifted life away from bistros. The article states that there were 200,000 bistros in 1960's France and 35,000 today. There's a lot behind those numbers other than taxation but, still, a one time tax hike that will add 20% to the price of a beer has many in the trade concerned. Yet, in times of impending economic grief, many things will have to be cut and others will have price hikes. Should beer be immune?