Special Report

9 States Drinking the Most Beer

Source: Thinkstock

6. Vermont
> Annual per capita consumption: 34.3 gallons of beer
> 5 yr. consumption change: -1.1%
> Driving deaths involving alcohol: 33.4% (17th highest)
> Beer tax rate: $0.27 per gallon (22nd highest)

Adults in Vermont drank an average of 34.3 gallons of beer in 2016, well above the 27 gallon U.S. average. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies excessive drinking as five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four or more for women or 15 or more drinks a week for men and eight or more for women. In Vermont, 19.6% of adults drink excessively, a larger share than in most states. Still, while excessive drinking is never healthy, only 11.4% of adults in Vermont report being in fair or poor health, the smallest share of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Wisconsin
> Annual per capita consumption: 35.5 gallons of beer
> 5 yr. consumption change: -2.0%
> Driving deaths involving alcohol: 36.9% (8th highest)
> Beer tax rate: $0.06 per gallon (3rd lowest)

With the abundance of breweries in the state, beer is an important part of Wisconsin’s identity and culture. Some of the largest and oldest breweries in the country, today legendary brands, began their operation in the state. Pabst — known for Pabst Blue Ribbon — Leinenkugel, Schlitz, Miller, and many more got their start in the state, mostly in Milwaukee. The state’s history of famous breweries likely has had an impact on consumption, which is among the highest in the country. Wisconsin adult residents drink an average of 35.5 gallons each year. Low beer excise taxes of just 6 cents per gallon — the third lowest excise tax of any state and far below the average state tax of 35 cents — likely do not hurt sales either.

4. North Dakota
> Annual per capita consumption: 38.6 gallons of beer
> 5 yr. consumption change: -8.0%
> Driving deaths involving alcohol: 46.7% (the highest)
> Beer tax rate: $0.39 per gallon (17th highest)

North Dakotan adults drink an average of 38.6 gallons of beer in a year, about 12 gallons more than the amount the average American adult drinks. Just a few years ago, in 2012, the state led the nation with an average beer consumption per adult of about 46 gallons, the equivalent of 488 12-ounce cans of beer.

State residents in general tend to abuse alcohol, including beer. About one-quarter of adults report drinking excessively, the highest share in the country and significantly higher than the 18% nationwide figure. The excessive drinking likely has some short- and long-term health effects, one of the most tangible of which is driving fatalities. Nearly 47% of driving deaths in the state involve alcohol, the highest proportion of any state.