By Chris Morris
January 17, 2019

Cheers, America!

A new report from IWSR, a leading source of data on the alcoholic beverage market, finds that people in the United States drank 3.345 billion 9-liter cases of alcohol in 2018. That works out to 7,952,899,636 gallons—or, if it’s easier to visualize, about 160 million bathtubs full.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually less than the previous two years. Total alcohol volume in America fell 0.8% last year after a 0.7% decline in 2016, both largely due to weakening beer sales, according to preliminary figures in the just released IWSR U.S. Beverage Alcohol Review.

While interest in craft beer continues to be strong (showing a 4.7% rise in 2018), the overall market has slipped as Americans lose their interest in big beer brands like Budweiser.

Despite that, beer still represents 78.3% of U.S. alcohol sales.

Spirits had a good year, though, showing an overall 1.9% increase. Standouts in that broad category included mezcal (up an impressive 32.4%), tequila (up 8.5%) and whisky (gaining 4.1%).

Wine continued to grow as well, albeit just slightly, for the 24th consecutive year. There are currently 13,000 wineries around the country, an increase of 1,000 in the past year. (Prosecco was the style that showed the biggest gains last year.)

“We’ve also seen for some time now that consumers aren’t necessarily loyal to just one category, which leads to less volume for individual brands,” said Brandy Rand, IWSR’s U.S. President and global Chief Marketing Officer. “Also, the aging baby boomer population, the largest group of legal drinking age consumers, is contributing to slowed growth as well.”

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