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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Graphic: Young Americans Are Ditching Beer for Wine and Liquor


Nationwide beer consumption is in steady decline. Mostly because young people are increasingly opting for the harder stuff.

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Young drinkers in the US are undergoing a shift in their preferred avenue to inebriation, according to a new study published by Goldman Sachs Investment Research. Just 20 years ago, nearly three-quarters of Americans aged 18 to 29 said their preferred booze was beer. But as you can see below, the percentage of young beer lovers has since dropped to a mere 40%.

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(Source: Gallup, Goldman Sachs Investment Research)

But just because the youngin’s are cutting back on beer doesn’t mean they’re drinking less overall. Nope! They’re simply replacing it with harder stuff. The percentage of young adults who prefer hard liquor has more than doubled, from roughly 13% in the early 1990s to around 30% today (see below). Shots all round!

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(Source: Gallup, Goldman Sachs Investment Research)

And young adults’ taste for wine is also on the rise. The percentage of those who prefer the grape-based beverage has risen from around 15% in the early 1990s to just under 25% in 2014 (see below).

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But it’s not just the younger generation who are increasingly losing their taste for beer. Nationwide beer consumption dropped by nearly 9% between 2002 and 2012, though it’s likely that young people’s preferences have had a major influence. There may be a whole bunch of factors involved. The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson pointed out last year that both health and economic concerns may play a role, since beer has higher calories and less alcohol-per-volume than wine and liquor, making it a less efficient way to get tipsy.

Another theory is that people may turn their noses up at beer because that’s what their parents drank. ”Alcohol consumption is cyclical by nature,” says Thomas Mullarkey, a market analyst with Morningstar. “Believe it or not, we tend to drink what our grandparents drank, not what our parents drank.”

My grandpa loved Scotch. So this makes sense.