Beer makers left bitter amid ingredients price surge in Hungary
Pablo Gutierrez in Budapest

Problems are brewing for Hungary's beer makers. The cost of raw ingredients has doubled, and that, along with rising energy costs, is driving up prices for drinkers.

Zoltan Reketye, a pioneer of Hungary's craft beer industry, says he has to pay more to make his brews.

In 2014, he founded the country's first specialist micro-brewery, which now pumps out nearly a quarter of a million liters a year.

"Raw material prices for the barley doubled; energy prices went up anywhere from 300 to 1,000 percent," said Reketye, owner of Reketye Brewing Company.

The cost of ingredients for beer has soared in Hungary. /CFP
The cost of ingredients for beer has soared in Hungary. /CFP

The cost of ingredients for beer has soared in Hungary. /CFP

The cost of ingredients has been soaring - and that's seriously drained their profits.

A key reason for the rising cost of barley and other grains is the recent wave of severe droughts in Europe.

The energy crisis has also taken a toll on brewers. But that's not all; even the cost of bottling beer has increased.

Just four companies are responsible for most of Europe's glass production, and one of them has factories in Ukraine that have been affected by the fighting. There's even a shortage of aluminum to make beer cans.

"It doesn't really matter how much you end up paying for cans; you can't get them because of the capacity of the manufacturing companies is limited," said Reketye.


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Some pub owners in Budapest have been forced to close after wholesale costs soared by up to 40 percent.

Among them are bars owned by Daniel Bart, who also happens to be a Hungarian beer historian.

"We are hit very hard, and we are looking for escape routes; it's not like sailing in a calm ocean; we are sailing in a storm, so we are in a hard situation," said Bart.

Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Hungary. According to the country's National Statistics Office, 63 percent of Hungarians drink a pint at least once a week, but with prices bubbling up, fewer might choose to quench their thirst with a cold one.

Local beer enthusiast Charlie Tascarella says he is unhappy about paying more.

"The typical Hungarian doesn't make a lot of money. Those people have trouble buying beer. It's the liquid bread of Hungary," said Tascarella as he enjoyed a pint at one of his favorite pubs.

But if prices keep rising, the taps in many pubs could just run dry.


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