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What beer trends are on tap?

Americans spend about the same amount on alcohol as they did 30 years ago, but the way they spend has shifted dramatically, according to National Public Radio’s Planet Money blog. In 1982, consumers spent about 75% of their booze budget at the store; today, it’s more like 60%, with restaurants and bars gaining much more business. Prices for beer, wine and cocktails at restaurants and bars went up 79% in the past three decades, while store prices declined 39%. Also, spending has flipped as more of us opt for wine instead of cocktails, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The percentage spent on beer might be flat, but we’re spending more of it on small-batch brews. As we reported in March, craft-beer sales increased 13% last year, as more Americans opted for small-batch brews. Several hotels are taking advantage of the trend, offering craft-beer happy hour and even partnering with local brewers to create signature beer, USA TODAY reported.

“A way for hotels in a local market to distinguish themselves is to create experiences,” said Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s hospitality school. “Guests will say, when I stayed in that hotel, there was something. It could be an artist, a wine tasting, it could be meeting with managers.”

While most of us might picture craft beer in a frosted mug or a distinctive glass bottle, increasingly more microbrews are sold by can, said Joshua Bernstein, author of “Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Brewing Revolution.”

“In the early days there might have been sideways glances from people who considered themselves beer geeks, but we’ve found the craft-beer drinker is more than willing to embrace the cans,” Bryan Simpson, media-relations director at New Belgium Brewing, said in an excerpt of Bernstein’s book that was published in the summer issue of Culture magazine. New Belgium started offering its signature Fat Tire ale in a can four years ago, and customers snapped up the packaging right away, Simpson said.

Sales of canned beer are also on the rise among traditional brews. Of beer consumed last year in the U.S., 53% came from aluminum cans, compared with 48% before the recession began in 2007. A combination of frugality and growing popularity of budget-priced canned beer among young adults has spurred a renaissance for the can, which was the preferred packaging until about 1991, when glass bottles grew in popularity, along with more exotic, imported beer, Bloomberg reported.

Do your bar sales reflect or buck the trend? Tell us in the comments.

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