Figures released today by the Brewer's Federation caused alarm bells to ring in most UK and several European breweries, as beer consumption dropped to its lowest level in over 50 years.
Some brewers blamed industrial action at the Anheuser-Busch Inbev plant in Belgium for the decline in sales, as Stella Artois supplies dwindled, but BF spokesman Terry Leathered insisted that there were more serious underlying reasons for such a dramatic drop in sales of canned and bottled beers.
"There aren't many places where you can buy ready chilled beer any more," he told us. "But we think the main reason for the nosedive in sales stems from customers being fed up to the back teeth with beer drinking since the Christmas and New Year festivities, and that customers weren't willing to risk life and limb in the Big Freeze to go out for beer."
One trusted industry barometer of the British beer drinker is a contributor to satirical website, theSpoof.com, who once built a wall of empty cans beside his armchair that could be seen with the naked eye from outer space. If rumours are to be believed, this individual has not partaken of any alcoholic beverages since New Year's Day, for the simple reason, he says, that:
"I just got sick of drinking beer. Now I stick with hot beverages, such as tea, in its myriad guises, coffee, hot chocolate and Horlicks. It's a pain in the arse keep going to the kitchen to fix drinks, but it feels better than being beered out."
In contrast to brewers' tales of woe, hot beverage manufacturers have posted record sales figures, which may help Cadbury fend off a hostile takeover bid from Kraft, the renowned fake cheese manufacturers.
Fast food entrepreneur Ali Bullo, proprietor of Britain's top chippy and owner of a coffee shop in Littlehampton, told us:
"Hot beverages is future. Maybe I open coffee shop chain. Call it Starfucks, or something..."
More on our changing drinking habits as we get it.