Detailed Findings & Methodology
Many of the states at the top of the list of the biggest beer drinkers should not come as a surprise to those even slightly familiar with the history of brewing in the United States. Wisconsin, for example, which is fifth on this list, has produced some of the nation’s most popular breweries, including Miller, Milwaukee, and Pabst. Vermont, which ranks in the top 10, has the most craft breweries in the country. which also has an above-average rate of beer consumption. The presence of these industries indicate a strong cultural connection to beer, which likely leads to higher consumption rates.
Cultural influences can also partially account for low consumption rates in some states. Utah, which has by far the lowest annual beer consumption rate per capita, is also home to the largest share of members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, a religion that expressly forbids consumption of alcohol.
Though consumption figures are not available per state, this measure of shipments of beer per adult is meant to be a proxy for beer drinking in each state. At least one important factor is likely distorting how close shipments per capita reflect actual consumption per capita in certain states — out-of-state buyers.
In New Hampshire, which ranks first on this list at 40.6 gallons per adult consumed in 2017, there is no sales tax. This means that residents from nearby Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine can travel to the state to buy cheaper beer, and they frequently do. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission estimates that roughly half of the state’s beer, wine, and spirits sales are by out-of-state buyers.
One of the most immediate risks associated with excessive drinking is fatal motor vehicle accidents. Nationwide, 29% of all driving deaths involve alcohol. In each of the nine states consuming the most beer, the alcohol-related driving death rate is higher than the national rate. In North Dakota, the state with the third highest beer consumption rate, 48.1% of driving deaths are alcohol related, the largest share of any state.
To identify the states drinking the most beer, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed beer shipments in each state per resident 21 years and older in 2017 with data provided by According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher, and the U.S. Census Bureau. We also reviewed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on excessive drinking rates and alcohol-related death figures. Beer excise tax rates as well as sales tax rates came from the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization. The share of the population living in rural localities came from the U.S. Census Bureau, and alcohol impaired driving deaths came from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
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