Will Cannabis devastate Beer in the US?

2023 is seemingly going to mark the lowest beer consumption in the US since I’ve been on this site (and a legal drinker).
US beer sales fall to lowest level in quarter of a century.

I know these trends come in cycles but I think this is just the beginning. I know there are a lot of factors but I’ll highlight one: the cost of getting high is much lower than getting drunk.

When I started in craft beer, the average sixer of high-quality beer (e.g., Victory) was ~$7. 64oz growler fills were not double digit, and 750s of Ommegang (include 4 Philosophers) were $3.

As a poor college student, these were definitely affordable treats. Or, I should say, an affordable gateway. Frankly, a better experience than the shit weed available in the dorms.

However, nowadays the US is going through a major expansion in legalizing cannabis, the cost of which is dramatically lower than beer with higher quality and potency. My concern is that Gen Z (and after) will not experience the same gateway experiences and beer, especially craft, is going rely on a smaller and aging population of people who will be drinking less and less (or at least more discerningly).



My rosy glasses don’t remember 4P being that cheap, but I do remember cheap craft bodega sixers everywhere as well as growlers actually being worth it.

Once the hobby does inevitably downsize, all we’ll need is one Oprah article about how beer is the next healthy trend & it’ll come right back.

Def was in the early 2000’s

But I agree that it will eventually come back when prices stable out and less competition. But that could be a 1-2 decades. Or, alternatively, craft beer remains a mom and pop sort of business for the local community and stays that way. Wouldn’t mind that at all.

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Denver is pretty much the epicenter of legal US cannabis culture and the beer scene seems to have perservered.

I think it hurts that a lot of the major US breweries (Sierra Nevada, Bells, Stone, Founders, New Belgium, Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Dogfishhead ect) have sold out and/or have shifted to really weak, trend chasing portfolios. No national brands really have any sort of attitude or character, or any substance to back it up.

The whole premium priced but regular beer 16oz 4pack, while a great way to cash in short term for new hyped breweries, has only been better for the consumer when compared to overpriced bombers. There aren’t many cutting edge breweries that make an affordable sixpack. Hard to want to drop 15-20 on a 4pack of any beer more than once for me.

Taproom prices still seem too high to me, not inviting to regular customers. 7 dollars plus tip and tax for the most standard of beers is not really that great of a deal.

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I’m fairly certain that you can’t get a craft pint in NYC for under $10.

I just don’t see Gen Z adopting this interest at these prices.

Curious about what percentage of this is cut out from macro or micro, or if it’s evenly distributed across the entire industry, how much of it is due to increased cannabis sales or could hard liquor or wine be taking customers away?

I’ve cut back on my consumption due to a variety of factors, partly family related, but largely because it’s getting so expensive. Having a mortgage and a kid put spending in perspective. I’m generally happy enough at gatherings just not drinking if the only option is a cooler full of light/lite beers. I’m capable of eating a meal out without ordering a beer if the only options are crappy, and I’m hoping that some of the decline is in line with that attitude. Last year I probably spent the least amount on alcohol in my entire 19 years of being able to purchase beer legally.

When I do make it to a brewery, and I realize it’s purely anecdotal, the population at a brewery often seems to trend to those 30+, with maybe some families in their late 20s. I feel like it’s the same exact same people I would have seen at a brewery a decade ago, aging at the same rate as the the breweries with fewer 20-somethings joining in.

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My gateway into craft beer was inexpensive options at the Total Wine near campus, where I would go with my college roommates and put together multiple make-your-own six packs of beers, often we’d get our 6 packs of brand new (to us) craft beer for under $12 bucks, often close to $10.

Those days are gone. Even when I’ve tried to replicate those early days at Total Wine today, singles are almost always at minimum 2.50, but that’s on the low end. Most are 2.79 or 2.99. I would be surprised if I could get a mixed pack for less than $18.

Devastate? Nahhhhhhh.
You must have a card, Eugene because legal weed ain’t cheap! Even before weed became legal 300 dollar ounces were fairly common even around red neck Ceciltucky County MD. The price of weed now is just as bad or worse I do believe. I can’t speak from personal experience and may be totally wrong but I have friends and family who still partake in the use of the evil weed. I can get a lot of good beer for what they claim they drop on the stuff.

I don’t think cannabis will have much of an effect. I think the bigger things will be the following: (1) alcohol consumption is going down across the board. More people are adopting “sober” lifestyle, and, from what I hear, kids are drinking less than my generation did. (2) the modern craft beer movement was formed around millenials and gen Xers in many places. If you look at the branding and nostalgia mining of places like Other Half, I think it is pretty clear. Gen Z and Gen Alpha perhaps won’t have the same connection to a lot of it. In short, I just don’t know if breweries are going to be cool in five years to kids who are now 20 or something.

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A 10mg edible runs around $2 in Maryland (no card necessary, recreational, totally legal). For $2, someone can have a couple of hours of fun.

Beer can’t compete with that.

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That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying. They aren’t getting less high.

Of people aged 18 to 24, 69% prefer marijuana to alcohol, according to a recent survey


Yes, agreed. But I think cost/access is a main reason. It’s only not cool bc the generation will take less interest in it and not create their own version of a brewpub. We have all seen the brewpubs from 90s that are still around and they are different from the 2010s brewpubs. I don’t think we will see many brewpubs for the younger generations but lots of stuff for cannabis.

Same anecdotal experience. The reason I thought of this thread is a saw a group of young’s guys getting carded at a local taproom. Then I realized I rarely see people need to get carded at all the breweries I visit. Definitely never a group of 4-5 guys.

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Beer Connoisseur Magazine now does articles on cannabis

I was actually totally wrong about my estimates from this post. I went to Total Wine today, and made a 6 pack of assorted beers - the total was $30.35 after tax.

Most of the singles were 3:50 on up, seems like a large percentage were $5+.

I know I’m not factoring in inflation, but no way I would have ever gotten into craft as a college student with those kinds of prices.

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My buddy says a 10 mg wont get a fly high. 40 or nothing.

Tolerance. Your friend is a real pothead :grinning:

Either way, still cheaper than a craft 4pack of tall boys.

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Yes, yes he is! :rofl:
Yeah I guess. I’d rather enjoy some flavor/armas with my buzz even if it’s a couple bucks more for less of a buzz.

I do know that from watching my son and his friends that craft beer seems sorta popular with them. They have their weed and other weed variants but they do enjoy their craft beer along with it as well.