> Per capita consumption: 36.5 gallons
> Total consumption: 70,951,684 gallons (21st lowest)
> Pct. change in consumption ’03-’11: -17.2% (the lowest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 18.6% (22nd highest)
> Population density: 24.8/sq. mile (9th lowest)
In 2003, 44.1 gallons of beer were consumed per person in Nevada, at the time more than any state except North Dakota. Since then, beer consumption has decreased by 17.2% — more than any other state in the country. The state is not especially strict on beer sales, allowing for Sunday sales, as well as for sales in grocery and convenience stores. A significant amount of beer consumption is likely driven by Las Vegas’ tourism industry, a point highlighted by Beer Institute’s Jones. As of July, Las Vegas had over 23 million visitors this year, while the state’s total population was just over 2.7 million.
4. South Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 38.0 gallons
> Total consumption: 22,032,413 gallons (6th lowest)
> Pct. change in consumption ’03-’11: -1.8% (5th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 22.1% (6th highest)
> Population density: 10.9/sq. mile (5th lowest)
The 38 gallons of beer consumed per capita in 2011 is down from 38.8 gallons in both 2010 and 2009 and 39.3 gallons in 2008. Although per-capita consumption actually dropped 1.8% between 2003 and 2011, South Dakota is now fourth in consumption, up from seventh in 2003. More than 22% of the state’s population are considered to be binge drinkers, the sixth-highest rate in the country. However, the number of heavy drinkers is significantly lower, at just under 6%, below the 6.6% national average.
> Per capita consumption: 40.6 gallons
> Total consumption: 29,640,123 gallons (8th lowest)
> Pct. change in consumption ’03-’11: -5.1% (18th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 20.8% (9th highest)
> Population density: 6.9/sq. mile (3rd lowest)
Montana is just one of three states where the average adult drinks more than 40 gallons of beer a year. Montana has very few restrictions on selling beer, allowing Sunday sales as well as permitting grocery and convenience store to sell beer. In 2010, 20.8% of adults in Montana were binge drinkers, one of the highest proportions in the country. However, consumption overall has declined by 2.2 gallons per capita since 2003. As of last July, Montana charged $4.30 in taxes for a 31-gallon barrel of beer, lower than most of its neighbors but far more than the 59 cents Wyoming charged. Unlike Wyoming, however, Montana has no sales tax.
2. North Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 42.2 gallons
> Total consumption: 20,711,472 gallons (5th lowest)
> Pct. change in consumption ’03-’11: -4.5% (15th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 23.8% (2nd highest)
> Population density: 9.9/sq. mile (4th lowest)
In 2003, North Dakota consumed more beer than any other state in the country, with the average resident guzzling more than 44 gallons per year. But beer-drinking declined 4.5% between 2003 and 2012, with the average North Dakotan now drinking just over 42 gallons. Jones of the Beer Institute says that the decline in consumption could have been higher, except that the state’s recent oil boom has attracted many young males, who statistically drink more beer than the population as a whole. Nearly 24% of the state’s population are binge drinkers, which is the second-highest rate of all states. However, the 6.5% of the population considered heavy drinkers is slightly less than the national average.
> Per capita consumption: 43.0 gallons
> Total consumption: 41,994,894 gallons (13th lowest)
> Pct. change in consumption ’03-’11: -1.8% (6th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 18.7% (21st highest)
> Population density: 147.2/sq. mile (21st highest)
While beer consumption in New Hampshire fell 1.8% between 2003 and 2011, it declined 7.5% nationally. Nearly 66% of people had a drink in the past 30 days through 2011, second only to Wisconsin. Although the state has the highest per-capita consumption, only 18.7% of the population are considered binge drinkers, just slightly over the 18.3% national rate. New Hampshire has a tax of 30 cents per gallon of beer. In neighboring Vermont, it runs as high as 55 cents a gallon if alcohol content is more than 6%. Jones believes that New Hampshire has the highest beer consumption partly because Vermont and Massachusetts residents come there to purchase alcohol.
-Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess and Samuel Weigley