Beer Is Losing Its Grip On The Alcohol Market

It shouldn't be too controversial to say that people in the U.S. really, really love beer. As the dominant alcoholic beverage in this country, beer has been remarkably resilient, consistently beating out spirits and wine for the last 120 years and holding on to over 50% of American alcohol consumption until as recently as 2013, according to Statista. Craft beer has only helped maintain that dominance, as the Brewer's Association reports that it grew into a $26 billion industry by the end of 2021, with sales topping $100 billion.

America's love of beer doesn't mean it hasn't seen some challengers come to take its crown. The '90s saw a wave of sweeter beer alternatives like Zima trying to market to younger drinkers. More recently, sales of hard seltzer and canned wine were skyrocketing. According to CNN, they were seeing pre-pandemic year-to-year growth of 200% and 73%, respectively. Those alternatives could just end up being fads; however, as Business Insider reports, hard seltzer's massive growth finally started slowing last year. While newer, more trendy drinks may seem like beer's biggest rivals, it could actually be an old foe that finally surpasses it.

Spirits sales are set to overtake beer

Americans still love drinking beer; sales continued to grow by 1% in 2021, but as CNBC reports, it turns out they may like drinking hard liquor even more. Spirits have been surging in popularity over the last decade, growing so fast that even as beer sales increase, liquor is on pace to overtake it. According to Good Beer Hunting, spirits have risen to 40% of U.S. alcohol sales, while beer, which was as high as 61% in the 1990s, has plunged below 50%. Beer's share of sales also includes hard seltzer, meaning your typical lager has probably already fallen behind vodka and whiskey in popularity.

Spirits' rise has been driven by a few different categories, like hard seltzer and beer; these drinks have gotten a boost from new products, with ready-to-drink cocktails bursting on the scene and upping to $1.6 billion in sales last year, according to CNBC. While hard liquor is up across the board, the spirit boom has tequila to thank more than anything. Vine Pair says consumption has increased 30% over the past five years, and the agave spirit is soon set to overtake whiskey in sales. Beer may have history on its side, but when it comes to today's drinkers, it seems like nothing can compete with a margarita.