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There's a Tear in British Beer"¦

Gone are the days of Guinness is Good For You; welcome to the socially responsible recession era world of O'Doul's. In a market trend that almost defies logic, beer sales in the UK have been on the decline for the past few years "“ while sales of non-alcoholic beer have steadily increased.

Though Britain still reigns among the booziest of the Western European countries, sales of beer in off licenses (convenience stores, basically) and supermarkets has declined 11 percent in the first quarter of 2009, more than double the decline of beer sales in pubs and bars for the same period. Overall, the British beer market has dropped a whopping 8.2 percent in this last quarter, the sharpest dive since 1997, and has fallen 7 percent since 2006. The only bright spot, albeit a dim one, in the otherwise gloomy beer outlook is that traditional cask ales have maintained a small but steady increase over the last few years.

But while it's all tears in their beers for brewers, off-licenses and pub owners alike, the makers of non-alcoholic brews, such as Cobra Zero, have a reason to celebrate (responsibly, of course): Sales of non-alcoholic beer rose 9 percent in the last year and a massive 23 percent since 2006. It's still a tiny portion of the entire beer market, but brewers are beginning to take notice, perhaps, in the way beer manufacturers jumped on the low-calorie, low-carbohydrate wagons when they came around.

Marketing directors, especially those of the companies selling non-alco beers, attribute the rise to the growing availability of good non-alco beers and better tasting choices, while independent market researchers have pointed to the inundation of government messages encouraging responsible drinking. Reports on who's buying the non-alco beer vary: Bavaria, one manufacturer of the beer, says their drinkers are "image conscious 18-34-year-old men," although the company also sponsors UK pregnancy websites. Cobra, however, says their biggest fans are older men, between the ages of 45 and 60.

In other booze news, UK sales of alcopops, those nauseatingly sweet pre-mixed cocktails of the kind you drank when you were a teenager making the jump from candy to liquor and hadn't yet discovered adult alcoholic beverages could be just as rewarding and even tasted better, have tumbled drastically over the last decade. Sales, which had been previously fueled by young drinkers, have dropped 14 percent in the last year, while the market shrank from roughly £800 billion in 2005 to around £405 billion now.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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