Beer and New Year's Resolutions don't tend to mix.
Call it "Drynuary," call it "Dry January" or call it any other name you'd like. Drinkers and beer-industry titans like Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD , Molson Coors TAP and Corona owner Constellation Brands STZ knows that sales of beer and other alcohol around this time of year are typically as dead as a Christmas tree purchased in November.
When Marist Poll surveyed people about their New Year's resolutions last year, 44% said they planned to make one. The 12% who planned to lose weight, 7% who wanted to improve their health, 6% who wanted to spend less money and 1% who wanted to flat-out stop drinking will all have an immediate effect on the beer industry. Even if beer drinkers don't stop drinking completely, their changing habits are reducing alcohol content and calorie counts on taps and in beer coolers.
According to the U.K.-based alcohol industry watchdog Alcohol Concern, which launched its first Dry January campaign in 2012, those alcohol-free resolutions work. Among participants surveyed, 79% said Dry January saved them money. Another 49% said they lost weight after quitting for a month. While drinkers in the U.S. have embraced #DryJanuary Twitter hashtag for similar reasons, industry observers say many drinkers simply aren't returning.
The International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR) found that total U.S. alcohol consumption dropped by 0.2% in 2017 after falling by 0.1% a year before. While people are still drinking both spirits (up 2.3%) and wine (up 1.3%), the 0.5% decline in beer consumption was significant. Beer makes up 79% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S., but the IWSR notes that its decline is "directly related to the slow-building trend of moderation or not drinking at all."
Molson Coors' MillerCoors division admitted this in its company blog, saying "many of the youngest legal-age drinkers (ages 21-27) are leaving the beer category altogether." There are several reasons they drift to wine, cider, and spirits, but beer's heft is among them. Consider that the six-inch Veggie DeeLite sandwich at Subway is 230 calories. That's roughly the same amount of calories as in one Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA (236) or a Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock (230) from this year's holiday variety pack.
With a 1.5-ounce serving of bourbon coming in at roughly half that calorie count and a 5-ounce glass of wine sneaking in at fewer than 150 calories, it's easy to see why New Year's resolutions and Dry January take such a toll on beer sales. But if you love beer apart from its calories or want to encourage healthier habits without quitting, here are a few beers that weigh less heavily on their loyal drinkers:
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.