4. South Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 38.1 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 2.94 gallons (8th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 20.6% (8th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 10
South Dakota adults consumed 11.4% more pure alcohol in 2012 than they did in 2002, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. Most of this increase came from spikes in wine and spirits consumption. While alcohol intake from beer grew by less than 1% — still one of the larger increases nationwide — legal-age adults in South Dakota increased both their wine and spirits intake by more than 30% over that time. Binge drinking may have contributed substantially to the state’s consumption totals. More than 20% of legal-age adults in South Dakota reported consuming at least four drinks in a sitting in 2012, among the highest binge drinking rates nationwide.
> Per capita consumption: 40.5 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.13 gallons (6th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 21.8% (5th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 31
A legal age Montana resident consumed an average of 40.5 gallons of beer in 2013, down from more than 43 gallons in 2009. Montana residents were largely beer drinkers, even though the state ranked 12th in total alcohol intake from spirits in 2012, per capita intake from wine was roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Dangerous drinking was also quite common in the state, where 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers in 2012, tied with Wisconsin for highest rate in the nation. Additionally, almost 22% of the adult population engaged in binge drinking, more than in all but a few states. High levels of drinking had notable health implications for residents as well. There were 37.7 alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000 residents in Montana between 2006 and 2010, more than in all but two other states.
2. New Hampshire
> Per capita consumption: 42.2 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 4.74 gallons (the highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 17.0% (22nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 21
New Hampshire trailed only one other state in total per capita beer consumption in 2013, and it was the nation’s leading state for beer drinking as recently as 2011. Additionally, New Hampshire led the nation in per capita intake of alcohol in 2012, with residents drinking the equivalent of 4.7 gallons of pure alcohol that year on average, versus 2.5 gallons per legal adult nationwide. However, these figures may be somewhat distorted by sales to non-residents by liquor stores located near state borders. Visitors often buy liquor and wine in the state because of the lack of tax at state-run liquor stores.
1. North Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 43.3 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.69 gallons (2nd highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 24.1% (2nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 4
North Dakota residents are the nation’s largest beer drinkers, consuming an average of 43.3 gallons per drinking age adult in 2013. One reason for this may be binge drinking. In 2012, more than 24% of the adult population reported binge drinking, more than in any state except for Wisconsin. Between 2002 and 2012, North Dakota led the nation with a 24% increase in pure alcohol consumption per capita. By comparison, consumption nationwide rose by slightly less than 3% in that time. Most of the increase in alcohol intake between 2002 and 2012 came from higher spirits consumption. High levels of beer consumption, binge drinking and alcohol intake may be related to the state’s attractiveness to younger Americans looking for work. North Dakota had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 2013 and has had the nation’s fastest growing state economy in each of the past four years.