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Beer futures aren't looking that great

Elizabeth King
February 07, 2018

Shocking though it may be to millennials given how much our demographic enjoys gabbing about craft beers and rosé, young people aren’t drinking as much alcohol as previous generations. So much so that Goldman just downgraded two beer companies: Boston Beer and Constellation Brands. Because it’s not just that millennials aren’t drinking as much booze in general, it’s also that millennials have a clear preference for wine and spirits over beer. The other part of the story? Millennials like to smoke weed, and in some cases are using marijuana in lieu popping open a few cold ones with the boys.

According to CNBC, younger alcohol consumers are pivoting away from beer and into the arms of wine and hard liquor. Among young alcohol-drinkers under 35, beer consumption has remained stagnant in recent years, and beer consumption is dropping for people between 35 and 44 who have a preference for wine and liquor.

But weed is also a big contributing factor here. CNBC reports that when Cowen Inc. recently downgraded Morson Coors, the financial services firm found a “notable inverse correlation with cannabis use.” Cowen analyst Vivien Azer previously told CNBC that alcohol sales have historically dropped when marijuana sales have increased, citing the 1980’s and 1990’s when alcohol consumption dropped 22 percent and cannabis consumption rose 18 percent. Overall, drinking has decreased between 18 and 25 years olds over the last 5 years, while marijuana consumption has increased for the same demographic.

The preference young people have for wine over beer is also part of a longstanding trend. In fact, millennials consumed 42 percent of all wine consumed in the US in 2015, according to Wine Spectator. Not only that, but wine-drinking millennials also are drinking more wine than older generations, which has been a major win for wine sellers. But there’s no real need to worry about the fate of beer, since CNBC reports that overall beer consumption has only dropped 1 percent.

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