Pub-goers are drinking 3.6million pints fewer a day than they were a decade ago, according to latest figures.
The British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA's) UK Quarterly Beer Barometer, published today, also shows that beer sales have slumped 8.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to last year - a drop of 1.7million pints per day.
The announcement of the drop - which is the biggest first quarter fall since 1997 - comes hot on the heels of Chancellor Alistair Darling announcing a two per cent hike in alcohol duty.
David Long, BBPA chief executive, said: "These figures provide more telling evidence of the intense pressure in one of Britain's most important sectors.
"Falling beer sales means more publicans struggling to keep their pub doors open. Closing pubs means tens of thousands of job losses and the heart taken out of many communities.
"With the Budget last week, government tax policy continues to make this situation worse, despite widespread public and political support for the BBPA and Campaign for Real Ale's Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub campaign."
In total, 68 million fewer pints were sold in the on-trade during January to March 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.
The off-trade has also been hit with sales down 11 per cent.
The BBPA has questioned the government's policy of increasing alcohol tax and claims tax income from duty in January and February was down £17 million on the same period in 2008, despite an 18 per cent tax increase during the period.