Special Report

States Drinking the Most Beer

3. Montana
> Annual per capita consumption:
39.7 gallons of beer
> Pct. change beer consumption 2011-2015: -1.7%
> Adults reporting binge drinking: 20.8% (9th highest)
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 47.1% (2nd highest)

While high per capita beer consumption does not necessarily mean unsafe behavior, in Montana, it has likely contributed to some of the negative outcomes associated with alcohol. Of all roadway fatalities in the state, 47.1% involve alcohol, the second highest percentage in the country. The high share of driving deaths attributable to alcohol accompanies a high rate of fatal conditions caused by alcohol. There are 16.8 alcohol-related deaths for every 100,000 Montana residents, the second highest rate in the country and more than double the national rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 residents.

2. North Dakota
> Annual per capita consumption:
40.0 gallons of beer
> Pct. change beer consumption 2011-2015: -4.5%
> Adults reporting binge drinking: 25% (the highest)
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 47.3% (the highest)

One in every four adults in North Dakota drinks excessively, the largest share of any state in the country. Beer may be the drink of choice for many in the state, as adults of age consume an average of 40 gallons a year, the second highest rate in the country. However, as is the case across the country, beer consumption in North Dakota is trending down. Beer consumption per capita in the state is 4.5% lower than it was five years earlier. However, this decline is actually only a recent trend. According to Shepard, beer consumption had risen meaningfully in the state. This was due largely to the oil boom that caused the state economy to rapidly expand, leading to an influx of young men with disposable income. In 2012, the state consumed 45.7 gallons of beer per drinking age adult, the most of any state in the past five years. As the state’s oil boom has flagged, consumption has also declined.

1. New Hampshire
> Annual per capita consumption:
43.0 gallons of beer
> Pct. change beer consumption 2011-2015: 0.2%
> Adults reporting binge drinking: 18.9% (17th highest)
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 32.9% (23rd highest)

New Hampshire levies a 30 cent per gallon tax on beer sold in the state. While this is a lower tax rate than in many other states, it is far from the lowest in the country. Still, New Hampshire is one of only four states with no sales tax. As a result, per capita beer consumption in the state may be skewed, as residents of neighboring states — Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont — may travel to New Hampshire to save on their beer purchases. Perhaps another indication of the potentially skewed figures is the relatively low alcohol-related driving fatalities. Of all driving deaths in New Hampshire, 32.9% are attributable to alcohol, the second smallest share of any state drinking the most beer.

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