Beer from Lion Brewery, the largest brewer in Sri Lanka

Beer has been brewed in Sri Lanka from five hundreds of years. In the 19th century, the British introduced British beer to Ceylon. The most popular beers in Sri Lanka are Lager-style beer.


Brewing began in Sri Lanka in 1881 primarily to meet the needs of the colonial tea planters. Despite the country's tropical weather, the preferred beer styles have remained relatively unchanged, with strong stouts remaining popular.

In 2011, Sri Lanka's beer market was estimated to be around 51 million litres per annum, with per capita beer consumption at around 2.7 litres.[1] An increase from 50 million litres and 2.45 litres in 2009.[2] The beer market only represents 39% of the total legitimate alcohol market, the market share however is growing compared to the hard liquor segment.[3] In 2011, the beer industry grew by 23 per cent in volume against 10 per cent growth in the hard liquor segment.[3] Out of the beer consumed in Sri Lanka, 90% is manufactured locally with the remainder imported from Asian markets such as Vietnam, Singapore and India. The local beer market is currently occupied by two main brewers.

The largest of Sri Lanka's brewers is the Lion Brewery, which is also the oldest brewery in the country. It produces over 90% of Sri Lanka's beers. In 1988 it constructed a new brewery at Biyagama to replace the century-old facility at Nuwara Eliya. In 1993 the brewery became a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd,[4] and in 1996 the Carlsberg Group acquired a 25% share of the company.[5] The brewery's portfolio includes lagers, strong beers and stouts, notably Lion, Lion Strong and Lion Stout. The company also brews Carlsberg under licence. The brewery exports its beers to the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and the Maldives. Since 2015, the brewery has produced a number of beers that were previously made by Millers Brewery Ltd, which existed from 1962 to 2015.[6]

Sri Lanka's second largest brewer is Heineken Lanka. It started as United Breweries Lanka in 1997, and was later acquired by Asia Pacific Brewery (Lanka) Limited (the former name of Heineken Lanka) in 2005.[7] The brewery's parent company, Heineken Asia Pacific (formerly known as Asia Pacific Breweries), is a Singaporean-based joint venture between Heineken International and Fraser and Neave. The brewery, located in Mawathagama, produces a range of medium and high-strength beers, including Bison Gold Blend, Tiger Lager, Tiger Black, Anchor Smooth and Anchor Strong.

Brands and breweries

The largest selling Sri Lankan beer brand is Lion.[8] Other major brands are Carlsberg, Royal Pilsner, Three Coins Beer, Carlton & United Breweries, Kings Pilsner.[citation needed]

Sales and consumption

In 2017 the beer market in Sri Lanka grew by 24-25%. According to the Finance Ministry, during the first eight months of 2017, revenue from excise duty on liquor and cigarettes has significantly decreased by 5.9% to LKR 73.7 billion and by 8.1% to LKR 54.6 billion, due to a drop in the volume of sales.[9]

Beer Sales (million USD)[10]
Alcoholic Beer Non-alcoholic beer Total
2022 247.6 63.42 311.02
2021 230.3 49.63 279.93
2020 251.8 52.84 303.64
2019 278.7 54.56 333.26
2018 285.7 50.47 336.17
2017 279.8 44.48 324.28
2016 265.1 40.64 305.74
2015 252.7 34.55 287.25
2014 239.6 31.39 270.99

Consumption statistics

Beer consumption Sri Lanka per capita 2010-2020 (Litres)[11][12]
2020 5.5
2019 7.3
2018 7.1
2017 6.8
2016 6.6
2015 6.5
2014 6.1
2013 5.9
2012 5.8
2011 5.4
2010 4.9

See also


  1. ^ "Beer Drinking Nations the Determinants of Global Beer Consumption" (PDF). AAWE Working Paper No. 79. American Association of Wine Economists. April 2011. p. 37. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Lion seeks to reduce gearing through Rs. 1.2 bn. Cash Infusion". Sunday Island. 16 August 2009. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Sri Lankans more into Hard Liquor". The Sunday Times. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. ^ Abeysekera, Indra (2007). Intellectual Capital Accounting: Practices in a Developing Country. Routledge. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9781134073610.
  5. ^ "Ceylon Brewery will never compromise qualities". Daily News. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ "The Island". Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  7. ^ "APB Officials fly to Colombo after buying into Local Brewery". The Sunday Times. 2005. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. ^ webadmin-lmd (20 November 2017). "SRI LANKAN BEER MAKERS TO REGAIN MARKET SHARE". LMD. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  9. ^ LBO (15 November 2017). "Sri Lankan Beer makers to regain market share with tax changes: Fitch". Lanka Business Online. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Beer - Sri Lanka | Statista Market Forecast". Statista. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Beer Consumption Per Capita in Sri Lanka". Retrieved 30 July 2023.