Beer after work at the bar: a U.S. tradition is getting stale
By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A tattooed man with a goatee shakes five dice in a black cup, slams it down on the bar and watches as they come to rest among half-full beer bottles and empty shot glasses.
"Nothin," he says in disgust as he quickly slaps down a $20 bill to buy another round of drinks, in a U.S. ritual of beer drinking after work that is undergoing a gradual decline.
"I used to get the third-shift Allen Bradley guys in the morning, but they have cut and cut jobs," said Terry Zadra, owner of the 177-year-old Zad's Roadhouse on the south side of Milwaukee.
The bar is just blocks from an industrial plant owned by Rockwell Automation, which bought Allen Bradley, a factory equipment company, in 1985.
One result of the 2008-2009 recession that reduced manufacturing jobs in places such as Milwaukee has been slower traffic at some bars, and sluggish beer sales nationwide over the past four years, according to industry analysts.
"Contrary to the myth that people go out and drown their sorrows, the truth is that beer drinkers are pretty responsible people and when they have to cut back, they're cutting back on their pleasures," said Chris Thorne, vice president of communications at the Beer Institute, a Washington-based trade group.
According to the institute, beer drinkers last year in the United States drank 203.4 million barrels, about 5 percent less than in 2008.
More concern about healthy living, stiffer drunk-driving laws and measures that ban smoking in places such as taverns have hit beer sales during the last couple of decades in Milwaukee and throughout the country. Continued...