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The buzz on Americans drinking less beer

Phai Dip wears novelty, beer-related glasses at the Great British Beer Festival in the Olympia exhibition centre on August 13, 2013 in London, England.

We have some sad, sad news. A great American industry is declining.

Yes, we are drinking less beer.

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 36 percent of Americans who drink alcohol say that beer is their beverage of choice -- with wine nipping at its heels at 35 percent and 23 percent preferring liquor.

It isn't quite time to ring the alarm for the death of brew though, says Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School. "Take the numbers -- beer is a $100 billion market, wine is about $35 billion, and spirits is about $62 billion market," she says. "Add it up -- we got $200 billion that we're spending on alcohol. You know, that's two sequesters."

She says the biggest change in the market has come from the rise of craft beer: "We're having a beer renaissance."

In terms of future growth, Koehn says the market will likely expand in all three directions.

"Take vodka, for example. When I was in college we were drinking Long Island iced teas, but we weren't talking about, I want this particular kind of Grey Goose," she argues. "Consumer knowledge has come to all these games. There's lots more consumer ego and identity invested in these kind of products than saying, 'I don't like a lot of foam.'"

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.
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