American Beer Consumption Reached Its Lowest Level Since 1999

It's an odd time for the beer world

Beer glasses on a bar
It's been a strange year for breweries, and the data bears that out.
Getty Images

2023 has been a rough year for the domestic beer market in the U.S. This year has seen culture wars surrounding Bud Light and the closure of a craft beer pioneer — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to news of an industry weathering challenges on all sides. But social media fights and corporate owner mismanagement are only part of the story around domestic beer; there’s also the fact that drinkers in the U.S. are drinking less beer than they once did. A lot less.

To put it in perspective, someone who had their first legal drink in 2023 would not have been born — or even conceived! — the last time beer consumption in the U.S. was this low. Citing data from Beer Marketers’ Insights, Rob Wile of NBC News reports that beer shipments in 2023 will be under 200 million barrels. That’s the lowest that figure has been since 1999.

According to what Lester Jones of the National Beer Wholesalers Association told NBC News, the issue at hand is simple: drinkers have more choices available, and a significant number of them are opting to drink something other than beer. “[S]ome of the world’s largest soft drink and energy companies introduced sugar-forward alcohol beverages to the market, all of which are vying for the same consumer occasions as traditional malt- and hop-forward products,” Jones told NBC.

An Oregon Brewery Made a Beer Out of Blue Cheese
Oregon’s Crux Fermentation Project teamed up with local cheesemaker Rogue Creamery for a new type of brew

As for what 2024 might look like for domestic beer, a recent article in Craft Brewing Business found several industry sources predicting some trends continuing in the coming year, including a reliance on IPAs and an expansion of pilsners. Aaron Reames of Bent Water Brewing Company also predicted a shift away from craft beer-only distributors. “A diversified portfolio from large, sophisticated teams will continue to enable broad retail success,” Reams told Craft Brewing Business. This time next year, we’ll see if those predictions came true.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.