UK on-trade beer volumes fell 6% in the year to June 2011, with sales down 4.5% in Q2, according to new figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
The royal wedding and decent weather in Q2 is credited with reducing the slowdown, although this was offset by the comparisons with the World Cup in Q2 2010.
The BBPA's Quarterley Beer Barometer, based on data from BBPA brewery members, shows that overall beer volumes for the 12 months to June 2011 fell 7.1%. They declined 9.8% in Q2 2011.
The off-trade was hit harder by comparatives with the World Cup, with Q2 volumes down 15%. Across the full year, off-trade volumes fell 8.3%.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "Beer sales are a barometer of Britain's economic confidence. With last year's sales figures benefiting from the World Cup effect, which has historically boosted sales, sustaining volumes was always a challenge."
The BBPA said January's VAT rise, and the subsequent 7.2% rise in beer duty, "flattened" out the royal wedding effect.
Simmonds added: "The royal wedding gave a welcome boost to this quarter's beer sales, but beer tax rises are now hitting our brewers hard and undermining recovery.
"We warned the Chancellor that further beer tax rises would hinder job growth in our sector. Duty increases are fuelling inflation and stifling investment.
"Taxing beer fairly would create thousands of new jobs and substantial extra tax revenues at a time when we are all looking for private-sector led recovery."