We may have “passed peak booze.”
generic photo of drinking craft beer
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For about a decade, America’s craft beer boom has created an astronomical rise in the number of US breweries – from 1,447 in 2005 to 5,301 in 2016. But despite this massive growth in the number of people producing beer, beer consumption in the US has actually been on a slow but steady decline for decades, according to The Economist. And recently, that trend of decline has been seen in many major beer markets in the world – contributing to an overall drop in beer drinking worldwide.

Citing data from research firm IWSR, The Economist suggests that the citizens of Earth may have “passed peak booze.” 2016 was the second consecutive year of decline in global alcohol consumption, but only the third time that number has dropped since IWSR started collecting data in 1994. To put it another way, from 1994 to 2014, alcohol intake around the globe generally increased steadily, but for the past two years, it’s actually dipped back down.

Beer – which is the world’s most consumed alcoholic beverage, making up about three-quarters of total consumption – is seen as the main cause of this new trend. The five biggest beer markets are China, the United States, Russia, Brazil and Germany. Though the US and Germany have both generally seen beer consumption wane since 1994, growth in Brazil, Russia and especially China had buoyed the global numbers. But in recent years, those numbers have been back in decline, especially in China which is now the world’s single biggest consumer of beer. As a result, those three markets “accounted for 99.6% of the global decrease in the volume of beer drunk in 2016,” The Economist writes.

Still, beer’s reign is far from over. Despite its global losses, wine and spirits have followed a nearly identical trend throughout the years – meaning beer is simply keeping pace. And even in China, where consumption per adult is the lowest of the five largest markets, the average person still drinks the equivalent of well over a hundred 12-ounce beers per year. Meanwhile, US adults drink over twice that. Seeing as there are 52 weekends per year, that all sounds about right.

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