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Why Beer Lovers Should Avoid St. Patrick's Day

Stocks in this article: DEO

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- If you love beer, you should hate St. Patrick's Day.

You're going to wade through a crowd just to get to the bar at your favorite pub that's usually dead on a Monday. You're going to be served Guinness in plastic cups that even Guinness' parent company Diageo (DEO) strongly advocates against. If you're lucky, you won't be served a premium by the owners for the privilege.

Maybe you'll be able to get to your local liquor store, bodega or supermarket and leave with a beer unmolested, but just maybe you're going to find endcaps filled with Guinness, green cans of macrobrew or anything remotely Irish that can be fashioned into Black Velvets, Black and Tans (which, by the way, is a terrible name for anything) and other Frankenstein beer blends.

If your idea of marking the occasion involves installing a nitrogen tap for Guinness in your Kegerator and dyeing light lager green, it may be worth reassessing your relationship with St. Patrick's Day and co-opted U.S. drinking holidays in general.

In the beer world, St. Patrick's Day comes at the end a long, dry winter and the beginning of an uncertain spring. Cold-weather beers disappear all too soon, while sunny spring varieties show up way too early. As a result, beer sales slump to their lowest points of the year.

Take a look at the Brewers Almanac put together by Washington-based lobbying group The Beer Institute. You'll see an American beer consumption pattern that shallows out around Labor Day and doesn't really pick up again until folks start buying their Memorial Day 30-packs in May. Seems like the beer industry could use a little boost somewhere in the middle, doesn't it?

That's where St. Patrick's Day comes in. In 2010, for example, Americans hit their peak beer consumption in June, when they took down more than 20.1 million barrels of beer. Their thirst for beer kept them buying roughly 19.5 million barrels a month until the end of summer, but trickled off every month thereafter until they were down to 15 million barrels each month in January and February of 2011. By March and St. Patrick's Day, however, that amount shot up to 19.1 million again before settling back to 17 million in April just before the summer resurgence.

The last decade is marked with similar March upticks, with the greatest prompting hibernating revelers in 2006 to up their beer intake from 15.4 million barrels that February to 19.2 million the next month. That's worth something, no? It's better than just a continued drop, right?

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