States That Drink the Most Beer

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After falling for three straight years, U.S. beer consumption finally leveled off last year. In 2012, the country consumed 28.2 gallons of beer for every adult of legal age.

Annual beer consumption varies widely on a state-by-state basis, according to the latest data released by the Beer Institute. In Utah, retailers barely sold 20 gallons per every person 21 years and older. Several states, however, went through more than double that, including North Dakota, where 45.8 gallons of beer were consumed per adult.  Based on data published by the Beer Institute, these are the states that drink the most beer.

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Consumption represents the amount shipped to retailers in the state, but not necessarily the amount state residents drank. In many places on this list, for example, people be may traveling from out of state to purchase beer because of lower taxes or because it’s laws governing sales are less restrictive.

In many of the states with the highest beer sales per capita, taxes on beer are very low. This includes states such as Montana, which taxed just 14 cents per gallon.

In other states, taxes were not necessarily among the lowest in the country, but were lower than neighboring states. In North Dakota, where the second most alcohol is consumed per adult, the state only taxes wholesalers and manufacturers. It also has no sales tax. This may cause residents in neighboring states to make runs across the border to buy beer.

The states with the highest rates of alcohol consumption also make it easier for consumers to purchase beer with relaxed restrictions. None of the 10 states with the highest beer consumption outlaw sales of beer at grocery stores or convenience stores. While many other states prohibit Sunday beer sales, all of the top-consuming states allow it.

While cheaper or more available beer appears to be a factor in how much beer is purchased in these states, it is also clear that drinking is more popular. Of the 10 states, eight have among the highest rates in the country of adults reporting either heavy drinking or binge drinking, or both. In the highest beer consumption state, North Dakota, 23.8% of adults reported binge drinking at least once within the past month. Only 18.3% of adults said the same nationally.

Based on figures compiled by the Beer Institute, these are the 10 states with the highest consumption per adult. This represents the amount of beer shipped to distributors in gallons, per resident 21 or older. Additional figures on the number of breweries in each state and the direct and indirect contributions of the beer industry to states’ economies are based on the Beer Institute’s estimates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided figures about the percentage of state adults who are heavy drinkers, defined as averaging more than one drink a day for women or two for men, and binge drinkers, who consume numerous drinks in one single occasion.

These are the states that drink the most beer.