Their country is famous for its beer the world over, but Germans’ appetite for ale looks to be drying up.In the first six months of this year, sales from German breweries were down by nearly 5 percent on the same period in 2008. The Federal Statistics Office says it is the lowest first half-year sales since records began for the unified Germany in 1991. So, why are Germans turning their backs on beer? Changes in lifestyle, smoking bans, the economic downturn and poor weather are among the explanations given by Peter Hahn of the German Brewery Association. Fortunately for the breweries, when the sun does come out, a trip to the neighbourhood beer garden is still a must for many. On holiday in Berlin, one German tourist said his wife gave him an ultimatum to give up either smoking or drinking. He opted to continue with the latter, stressing that beer tastes better when the weather is good. With an increasingly health-conscious public, water and wine are making their mark on the social scene, at the expense of ale. But, despite a steady decline in consumption over the past decade, Germans remain among the biggest beer drinkers in the world.