The National Institutes of Health recently published updated state drinking data — which means it’s time to take a look at which states are drinking a lot, and which states aren’t. The maps below, for wine, beer, and spirits, use government collected data. You’ll notice that per capita consumption includes everyone 14 years and up, rather than 21, the nation’s legal drinking age. As you can read in their methodology, the government acknowledges that many teenagers who do wind up drinking once over 21, start in their teens — like their peers who do so legally in most developed countries.
The first thing that stands out on the map of wine consumption is that Idaho takes home the number one spot. As we explain on the map, this doesn’t jive with commercially collected data, but it cannot be dismissed as the number of wineries in Idaho has been growing rapidly in recent years. New Hampshire has a top five spot on all three maps — which is partially due to neighboring state citizens crossing the border for low-tax drinks. Washington D.C. , Delaware and Vermont appear here, as they each do on at least one other map. States not loving vino? West Virginia, Kansas, Mississippi, Utah and Oklahoma.
The northern cluster of Montana and the Dakotas — along with their neighbors to a lesser extent — dominate beer drinking in America. Craft beer loving states like New Hampshire, Maine are in the top five as well. Other big craft drinking states see high, but not extraordinary beer consumption per capita. Craft beer is booming in states like California, Colorado, North Carolina, and Oregon, but big beer is still a whole lot bigger than craft beer. What about the states on the opposite end of the beer spectrum? There you’ll find Utah, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
When it comes to spirits, we see the usual suspects, with the addition of Nevada. Tourism at the state’s casinos obviously elevates per capita consumption; in fact Nevada ranks 7th for both wine and beer consumption. North Dakota appears in the top five again. It’s worth nothing that for wine consumption, North Dakota is toward the back of the pack. The reason? The shale oil boom, which brought in a flood of young men — who are more likely to drink (a lot of) beer and spirits and than wine. States staying away from the hard stuff include: West Virginia, Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, and Arkansas.