Special Report

States That Drink the Most Beer

7. Nevada
> Per capita consumption: 34.9 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.48 gallons (4th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 15.1% (13th lowest)
> Total brewers (2012): 19

Nevada has among the nation’s highest beer consumption rates. Still, it was one of the few states where total alcohol intake actually decreased between 2002 and 2012. Nevada residents drank more than 8% less alcohol in 2012 than they did in 2002. Over that time, alcohol intake from beer alone fell by more than 17%, also nearly the largest decrease nationwide. Nevada is the only state on this list where residents were less likely than the nation as a whole to binge drink, with just 15% of adults consuming four or more drinks in one sitting in 2012. In Nevada’s case, declines in alcohol consumption may be due to economic conditions and declines in tourism. Nevada has struggled with high unemployment in recent years. Not only are residents strapped for cash, but also the state has raised alcohol taxes in recent years in search of more reliable revenue sources.

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6. Wisconsin
> Per capita consumption: 35.8 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.20 gallons (5th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 25.2% (the highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 132

More than one-quarter of Wisconsin adults reported binge drinking in 2012, the most nationwide. That year, 8.5% also reported heavy drinking — defined as consuming large numbers of drinks weekly — which was tied with Montana for the most nationwide. State residents have favored wine in recent years. While alcohol intake from beer actually fell by 8% between 2002 and 2012, per capita wine intake increased by 31% over that time, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. Low taxes may have something to do with beer’s popularity in the state. Wisconsin’s excise tax for a gallon of beer is just six cents, versus a 20 cent nationwide median excise tax and less than all but just two other states.

5. Vermont
> Per capita consumption: 35.9 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.02 gallons (7th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 19.3% (10th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 25

While Americans nationwide drank less beer in 2012 than they did in 2002, Vermonters consumed 11.2% more alcohol from beer. This was the largest increase in the country. The dramatic spike may be due in part to growing enthusiasm for craft beers, for which Vermont has become famous. Several local Vermont beers have been rated among the world’s best, and in some cases black markets have emerged in the wake of excess demand. Like several other states with the highest beer consumption rates, wine has also become considerably more popular in recent years. Drinking-age Vermonters consumed nearly one-fifth of a gallon more alcohol from wine in 2012 than they did in 2002, the largest increase in gallons nationwide, and roughly four times the increase across the country.