Americans are drinking more alcohol amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from Nielsen. Though the lifestyle restrictions seem to have changed alcohol consumption habits, including shifting consumer preferences to wine and spirits, beer is still a favorite alcoholic beverage in the U.S.
People in all 50 states consumed less beer in 2019 compared to 2015. In 2020, however, the five-year change was negative in 40 states. In nine states, people have consumed more beer in 2020 compared to 2016.
The average American adult consumed nearly 26 gallons of beer in 2020, which was about 3.2 gallons less than in 2010, but only about 1.3 gallons less than in 2016. Beer consumption tends to vary considerably across the country.
To determine the state where people drink the most beer, 24/7 Tempo reviewed annual beer shipment data per capita provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher. We used shipments as proxy for consumption.
A standard “drink” serving is a 12-ounce beer or hard seltzer with 5% alcohol and light beers with about 4.2% alcohol.
Annual shipments of beer per capita range from more than 40 gallons in some states to less than 20 in others. While the states reporting the highest beer shipments per capita are not confined to a particular region, the states with the lowest per capita shipments tend to be concentrated in the Northeast.
There were 6,400 brewing facilities around the U.S. in 2019, producing the equivalent of more than 2.8 billion 24-container cases of 12-ounce cans or bottles, according to a report by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Most of the beer people drink does not come from where they might think it does — there are at least 10 “imported” beers that are actually brewed in the U.S.
New Hampshire is the state where people are drinking the most beer determined by beer shipment per adult 21+ in 2020 at 41.4 gallons per adult. Some other details about the state:
> 5 yr. change (2016-2020): 0.0% — no change
> 10 yr. change (2010-2020): -6.3% — 8th smallest decrease (-2.8 gallons)
> Beer tax rate: $0.3 per gallon — 21st highest
> Adults who report excessive drinking: 20.7% — 11th highest
> Median household income: $77,933 — 8th highest
Our methodology: To identify the state drinking the most beer, 24/7 Tempo reviewed beer shipment data per capita in 2016 through 2020 provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher. States are ranked on shipment figures in gallons per adult — people 21 and over — in each state for 2020. Consumption is based on shipment volumes to each state.
Data on adults reporting excessive drinking of any form of alcohol, not just beer, came from 2020 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. Information on beer tax came from the Tax Foundation, a think tank that tracks U.S. tax policies.
Population and median household income came from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.