Beer consumption has fallen to its lowest level since the 1930s as Britain becomes a nation of wine drinkers, according to figures released yesterday.
Britons drink 9.6 billion pints of beer a year, almost a quarter less than the peak of 12.2 billion in 1979 and the lowest since the Great Depression, said the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA).
Since 1997, beer sales have fallen by 11 per cent, while spirits have risen by 20 per cent and wine by 46 per cent. The BBPA points out that duty on beer has gone up by 26 per cent compared with just 3 per cent for spirits and 16 per cent for wine.
The industry group will call for a freeze in beer duty when it lobbies MPs in the all-party parliamentary beer group in the Commons on Monday, as the Treasury begins talks on the Budget in March.
Alcohol consumption is falling overall in the UK. In 2006 it fell by 3.3 per cent and, the year before, by 2 per cent, according to government figures.
Far more people are drinking at home. "Off-trade" sales from shops and off-licences account for almost half of beer sales, compared with less than 20 per cent in 1979.