Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development -
Are people drinking more or less beer is a question I'm often asked.  Well, according to the
Beverage Information Group’s 2016 Handbook, beer sales by volume at U.S. bars and
restaurants declined 1.4% from 2010 to 2015 and 3% from 2014 to 2015. Ouch.

Ah, but there's a catch to the statistic.  Actually compared to the last decade, Americans
aren’t really consuming beer with any less frequency or in smaller quantities.  The fact is
that  since 2007 on-premises consumption has dropped as much as 12% in the Northeast,
Midwest and South (the West was slightly up).  It's this eight year decline that has skewed
all the numbers downward.  

Consider the fact that over the last eight years 1.5% of the share of beer sales has moved
from bars to package stores, marking a huge shift in the balance between the two.
Researchers say  that the convenience, feel-good factor and family-friendliness of local
brewery taprooms hold some of the blame for keeping patrons away from traditional beer
outlets. So, too, the advent of growlers, glass containers that allow consumers to take
32 or 64 ounces of draught beer home from the brewery or liquor store to drink
that night or that week instead of heading to the local pub.

But the shift in sales location I believe also has to do with innovation and marketing. In a
crowded beer marketplace, brands need to think creatively to attract attention and hog
shelf space with as many types of delivery methods as possible. Sometimes that means
bringing the beer to the people  at home, where they can put on sweats and relax.

The at-home beer movement continues with online subscription and delivery companies
in many states(sadly not here for me in NJ)  that let consumers try small quantities of craft
beer without leaving the house. You might ask why this hasn’t  happened sooner; my answer
would be that the Internet is coming into alcohol and that there are still many who see
anything to do with alcohol as something potentially dangerous.

The trend to drink at home instead of bars is easily seen in Great Britain.   More beer is being
sold in supermarkets than pubs there for the first time in their history!.   The popularity of
home-delivered restaurant food there is encouraging middle-aged drinkers to abandon nights
. out at  pubs and other venues.  Only a few years ago pubs still held on to an 80 per cent
share of the market. But now ttheir sales have slipped to 49 per cent, The amount sold in
supermarkets and off-licences has ggone up an astounding 51 percent.

It's an interesting trend for sure but I don't think the bar will ever be replaced.  It's more than
just a place to drink.  It's somewhere you can go to chat, make new friends, watch a game in a
spirited atmosphere, and of course, enjoy a variety of great beer.

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Cheers,
Matt
Please continue to support my friends at
The  Northside Lounge
Nik's Wunderbar - Whitehouse Station NJ
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications.  He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
Where Do People Drink?
To all my readers and friends, I want to thank you for all your support during my time at Nik's
Wunderbar and at the Northside Lounge.  I'm moving back to the enviromental/ecological field so
the next time you see me at a pub it will likely be on a stool next to you.  I'll continue to write my
column here on BeerNexus giving you my take on what's happening in the beer world with my
insights derived from many years in the industry.  Cheers!