Special Report

States Drinking the Most Beer

7. Nevada
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: -10.1% (the largest decrease)
> Pct. binge drinkers:15.2% (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $51,230 (25th lowest)

Nevada per capita beer consumption in 2013 was nearly 35 gallons per person, well above the consumption level in the Mountain region, where the average annual consumption was nearly 31 gallons. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Nevada residents are heavier beer drinkers, as tourists to the Las Vegas region are likely responsible for a large proportion of the state’s annual alcohol intake. Drinkers in the state preferred bottled beer more than their peers in other states, with bottled beer accounting for 42.6% of all beer consumption, the sixth highest percentage in the country. While people in the state drink more beer than the vast majority of Americans, per capita beer consumption in the state fell by 4.6 gallons from 2009, the largest drop of any state in the country.

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6. Wisconsin
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 3.9% (22nd largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:22.5% (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $51,467 (24th highest)

In addition to drinking more beer than people in all but a handful of other states, 22.5% of Wisconsin adults reported binge drinking, the second highest percentage after only North Dakota. Drinking-age state residents were also among the nation’s most likely to be heavy drinkers — 7.8% reported drinking alcohol every day, the third highest percentage. In addition, more than 3% of adults said they had driven in the past 30 days after drinking too much, the fourth highest figure. Beer consumption fell in the nation by roughly 9.4% between 2003 and 2013. The trend in Wisconsin was no different, with alcohol consumption from beer falling by 7.5% over the same period. However, total alcohol consumption actually went up over that decade, with a 16.5% increase in alcohol use from spirits, and a 26.5% increase from wine.

5. Vermont
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 16.4% (the largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:17.1% (21st highest)
> Median household income: $52,578 (20th highest)

Vermonters 21 and over consumed 35.9 gallons of beer in 2013 on average, 1.2 gallons more than they did in 2009, the third largest increase — and Vermont was one of only six states where beer consumption did not decline over that period. Looking at a longer time span: from 2003 to 2013, only Vermont and one other state — Maine — saw an increase in alcohol consumption from beer. From all beverages, alcohol intake in Vermont increased the most over that period. Like most states drinking the most beer, Vermont is relatively rural — low population density has been associated with high propensities to drink more alcohol. Despite the high per capita beer consumption, nearly 22% of residents reported excellent health, the fourth highest such figure in the country.

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4. South Dakota
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 12.0% (3rd largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:19.2% (10th highest)
> Median household income: $48,947 (22nd lowest)

Each South Dakotan consumed more than 38 gallons of beer on average in 2013, well above the national and regional per capita averages of 27.7 gallons and 33.5 gallons, respectively. As was the case nationwide, alcohol intake from beer declined in South Dakota, although by only 0.6%. With shares of total consumption from spirits and wine increasing 36.8% and 29.4% respectively — the seventh and fourth highest figures — overall consumption increased by 12% from 2003. This was the third largest overall increase. Living in sparsely populated areas seems to increase the likelihood of beer consumption, as most states drinking the most beer had below average population densities. There were just over 11 people per square mile in South Dakota, nearly the lowest population density nationwide.

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