Beer sales fell by 3.8% in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, according to figures published by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
The latest UK Quarterly Beer Barometer revealed falls in pub and retail beer sales.
But the decline of sales in pubs slowed, following an 8.8% fall in the same period in 2010 - the lowest first quarter decline since 2005.
While the impact of the 7.2% tax rise in the Budget has yet to surface in the statistics, the BBPA said the good Easter weather and the extended bank holiday season may help the second quarter figures, as people flock to pubs to enjoy the royal wedding and the sunshine.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: "Taken together, the fall in sales, and the impact of the Budget shows sales in the sector are still fragile.
"However, the on-trade's performance relative to the off-trade has improved - and quarter two will be helped by the bank holiday bonanza and the good weather.
"While it's a pity that any recovery will be undermined by the huge tax hike, we still must make the most of the bank holiday season and enjoy a celebratory beer or two in the nation's pubs in the coming days."