The total amount of beer drunk in the world in 2007 was a record 180 billion litres.
The United States is the biggest consumer, followed by China.
The biggest consumers per head of population, however, are the Czechs, who each drink more than 35 gallons of beer a year.
The British drink 21 gallons each, and the habit seems to be an old one:
records show that the weekly ration allocated to each child in Norwich children's hospital in 1632 included two gallons of beer.
Deprivation from beer is also an old British punishment.
Among the regulations applying to Officers of the Bedchamber at the court of Henry VIII was this: 'Such pages as cause the maids of the King's household to become mothers shall go without beer for a month.'
Beer also has a fine tradition across the Irish Sea.
One of the miracles that led to the canonisation of the 16th-century abbess St Brigid of Ireland was her feat of transforming her bath water into beer for visiting clerics.
Louis Pasteur developed pasteurisation for beer more than 20 years before he did it for milk.
The Sumerian goddess of beer was called Ninkasi.
There is a type of flea that lives and breeds only in beer mats in Germany.
Octopuses in Monterey Bay in California have shown no particular fondness for beer mats but have been observed making their homes in discarded beer cans.
The hobby of collecting beer mats is called tegestology.