Canada remains a nation of beer lovers, but wine and spirits are becoming almost as popular as brew.

That's one of the main takeaways from new Statistics Canada data released Tuesday that shows Canadians spent $22.1 billion on alcohol in the year ended March 31, a rise of 3.5 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

From the total, $9.2 billion was spent on beer, $7 billion on wine and $5.1 billion on spirits. The remainder, about $800 million, was spent on ciders, coolers and other alcoholic drinks.

Ten years ago, beer enjoyed a 46.7 per cent market share of all alcoholic drinks, almost twice as much as wine at 27 per cent. But last year, those gaps narrowed to 41.5 per cent and 31.6 per cent, respectively.

Beer sales are still growing, but imported suds are guzzling most of the gains. Sales of imported beer are growing almost three times faster than sales of domestic beer, the data agency says.

Per capita, there were more than 229 bottles of beer consumed in Canada last year for every Canadian of legal drinking age. By way of contrast, wine consumption was at just over 24 bottles per legal drinker.

When it comes to spirits, three types of alcohol made up more than three-quarters of all sales: whisky (31.1 per cent), vodka (25.4 per cent) and rum (17.5 per cent).

Per capita, Canadians bought more than seven bottles of spirits for every legal Canadian drinker. 

All that spending on booze is a cash cow for governments, which saw their take in terms of profits increase by more than seven per cent to $6.1 billion last year.