The Grape Line, aka The Beer Belt

There are three distinct alcohol belts in Europe: the vodka belt, the wine belt, and most important to us, the beer belt. These are regions that are closely associated with a particular traditional beverage, rather than what is popular today in those regions.

The vodka belt is the north and eastern bloc of countries that  consists of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland), the Baltic countries (Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania), Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, no surprise, Russia. These countries produce over 70% of the vodka consumed in the European Union.

The wine belt is south of the beer and vodka belts and is comprised of  Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria, most of Austria, San Marino, Switzerland, Romania, France and Southern Federal District of Russia.

Source: Wikipedia Red: WIne Belt Green: Beer Belt Blue: Vodka Belt

Source: Wikipedia

Red: WIne Belt
Green: Beer Belt
Blue: Vodka Belt

And finally there is the beer belt, which is north of the wine belt and west of the vodka belt.. The beer belt consists of the countries of  Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, some parts of Austria, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Central Federal District of Russia, the northern and eastern (German-speaking) cantons of Switzerland and some French regions.

The Beer Belt is also known as The Grape Line, which is a rough border that denotes where grapes for wine will and won’t grow. North of it, grapes don’t grow well, but hops and barley do, up to a certain latitude; hops won’t grow at all in Scotland. Barley is also sensitive to climate, which is the reason for more rye and oat-based beers out of that region throughout history, because they’re more hearty than barley. Interestingly, either because of effort or climate change, there has been a spark of wine making in South Britain and the Low Countries in the last few years.

Interestingly enough, The Grape Line also denotes the northern border of the Roman empire, aside from Britain. The Greeks and the Romans both considered beer a barbarian’s drink, while wine was considered a civilized person’s drink of choice.

Source:  Big Think, Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer