Even though the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns seem to have made many people avid wine drinkers, according to data from Nielsen, beer is still the most preferred alcoholic beverage in the United States. A 2018 Gallup poll among American adults put the beverage at the very top, even as beer consumption has declined slightly over the last decade.
Beer consumption tends to vary considerably across the country. The only common characteristic among all 50 states is that fewer gallons of the beverage per capita were consumed in 2019 than in 2015.
24/7 Tempo reviewed annual beer consumption data per capita provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher, to determine the states where people drink the most and least amounts of beer.
Annual shipments of beer per capita range from almost 40 gallons in one state to less than 20 in another. Generally, residents of states in the Midwest tend to be the biggest beer drinkers, while residents of states in the Northeast consume the least beer with a few notable exceptions. Two New England states actually rank among the biggest beer drinkers in the country.
One reason why beer consumption appears to differ from state to state is a difference in purchasing laws and taxes. Nine of the 15 states with the lowest beer consumption per capita have some of the highest beer taxes in the country. States levy different levels of taxes on beer. They range from just $0.02 a gallon to almost $1.30 a gallon.
One of the most immediate risks associated with excessive drinking is fatal motor vehicle accidents. Nationwide, 28.0% of all driving deaths involve alcohol. The alcohol-related driving death rate is higher than the national rate in 31 states, and 12 of them are among the states where beer consumption is the highest. In Montana, the state with the highest beer consumption rate, 45.1% of driving deaths are alcohol related, the largest share of any state.
People may be drinking less beer overall, but sales of specialty brews are rising. The country’s 7,500-plus craft breweries shipped a total of 25.9 million barrels in 2018, up from 9.1 million a decade earlier — these are the most popular beer brands in America.