Beer sales are known for being recession-resistant, but that isn't looking to be the case this time around. The London-based brewer behind the Miller brand recently reported that its shipments dropped unexpectedly in the third quarter. MillerCoors said its premium light brand volumes were down 2.4%. MillerLite sales were down 7.5%

The World of Anheuser-Busch

    ** FILE ** In this April 1, 2007 file photo, the Budweiser Clydesdales make their appearance before the start of a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game against the New York Mets at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Anheuser-Busch's game plan for the 2009 Super Bowl is simple: More Clydesdales. The iconic horses, symbols of the St. Louis-based brewer, will most likely be airing in three of seven spots bought by Anheuser-Busch next month. (AP Photo/Kyle Ericson, file)

    AP

    Team USA, Vermont's sculpture, "Teeter Toddler" depicted a father taking his child out in the snow for a first winter outing. This sculpture was one of 16 works of art entered in last year's Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships. The finished pieces are achieved after a total of 65 intense hours of work. The 2009 event will showcase 16 sculptures from 9 countries around the world January 20-25, 2009. Photo Credit: Jeff Scroggins. (PRNewsFoto/Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships, Jeff Scroggins)

    PR NEWSWIRE

    Rower Juliette Haig on the River Thames passing the Stag Brewery, left, at Mortlake, London, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. Anheuser-Busch InBev on Tuesday said it may close a brewery that dates to the 15th century next year. The world's largest brewer said in a statement it plans to close the Stag Brewery, in Mortlake, west London in 2010. The brewery has 182 workers and is one of the oldest brewery sites in Great Britain. Anheuser-Busch InBev was formed late last year when Belgium-based InBev, maker of Stella Artois, bought U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion. One of the reasons for the pairing was to save on costs. The Stag Brewery, which had been owned by Anheuser-Busch until last year's takeover, produces Budweiser, Bud Ice and Michelob Ultra beers on the banks of the river Thames. (AP Photo/Fiona Hanson/PA) ** UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE *

    AP

    U.S. Navy sailors ride a roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. More than 3 million U.S. and coalition service members have entered Worlds of Discovery free under Budweiser's "Here's to the Heroes" military tribute program. Here's to the Heroes has been extended until December 31, 2009. (PRNewsFoto/Busch Entertainment Corporation)

    PR NEWSWIRE

    The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 with a special float commemorating their 75th anniversary as the symbol of Anheuser-Busch. Introduced in 1933 to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition for beer, the Clydesdales travel more than 100,000 miles to more than 500 appearances each year. (PRNewsFoto/Anheuser-Busch)

    PR NEWSWIRE

    ** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR END--FILE ** In this Monday, July 14, 2008 file photo, cars drive past the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis. The $52 billion sale of iconic St. Louis brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. to InBev SA highlighted what was an overall difficult year for business in Missouri. InBev agreed to make St. Louis its North American headquarters, but the merger has already taken a toll u00F4 1,400 Anheuser-Busch workers, about 1,000 of them in St. Louis, saw their jobs eliminated 2 1/2 weeks before Christmas.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

    AP

    ** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR END--FILE ** In this Monday, July 14, 2008 file photo, the Anheuser-Busch brewery is seen in St. Louis. The $52 billion sale of iconic St. Louis brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. to InBev SA highlighted what was an overall difficult year for business in Missouri. InBev agreed to make St. Louis its North American headquarters, but the merger has already taken a toll u00F4 1,400 Anheuser-Busch workers, about 1,000 of them in St. Louis, saw their jobs eliminated 2 1/2 weeks before Christmas.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

    AP

    ** FILE ** In this Monday, July 14, 2008 file photo, cars drive past the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis. The $52 billion sale of iconic St. Louis brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. to InBev SA highlighted what was an overall difficult year for business in Missouri. InBev agreed to make St. Louis its North American headquarters, but the merger has already taken a toll u00F4 1,400 Anheuser-Busch workers, about 1,000 of them in St. Louis, saw their jobs eliminated 2 1/2 weeks before Christmas.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

    AP

    (FILES)This four image combination photo courtesy of Anheuser-Busch shows the brands Budweiser and Bud Light brewed by the brewing icon in St. Louis, Missouri. InBev SA on November 18, 2008 formed the world's largest brewer when it closed its 52 billion USD (euro 41 billion) takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos.The new company, named Anheuser-Busch InBev, will be headed by InBev CEO Carlos Brito and will be headquartered at Leuven, Belgium. AFP PHOTO/HO/ANHEUSER-BUSCH = = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE = = GETTY OUT = = (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    (FILES) This July 21, 2008 photo shows The logo of Anheuser's Budweiser at the Busch Agricultural Research facility in Fargo, ND. Belgian-Brazilian brewery giant InBev on November 18, 2008 announced it had completed the takeover of Anheuser-Busch to create the world's biggest brewer. "Effective today, InBev has changed its name to Anheuser-Busch InBev to reflect the heritage and traditions of Anheuser-Busch," Inbev said a statement. AFP PHOTO/FILESKaren BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, the weakness in sales is being driven by smaller orders at restaurants and bars, which are anything but recession-proof. But it seems that some people are opting to skip out on beer entirely instead of heading to the liquor store to take home a case of Keystone Light.

Beer sales normally grow at about 1% per year -- in 2008, they only grew by half that amount. But it could get worse in 2009.

I can't help but wonder whether the combination of plunging 401(k)s and foreclosures has people thinking they need something a little more potent than beer. The Dayton Business Journal reports that in Ohio -- one of the harder hit sates -- sales of liquor containing more than 21% alcohol rose 5% in 2008. The top-seller was the bargain basement Kamchatka Vodka, which moved 380,465 gallons in that state.

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