TIME Food & Drink

7 Truly Bizarre Beer Laws

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Beer Ansel Olson—Flickr RF/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on FoodandWine.com/fwx.

Earlier this summer, the Missouri legislature approved a law allowing the sale of single 12-ounce bottles of beer in the state. Despite bigger bottles being legal for individual purchase, the traditional 12-ounce size had to be sold in packs of at least three.

The measure’s overwhelming support (passing by a 143 to 1 margin) proved it was an idea whose time had come. However, the United States still has a love affair with its restrictive beer laws, often dating back to the original outrageous beer law: Prohibition.

Here are some strange state laws still in place, which you may or may not recognize based on your life, travels and level of alcohol consumption.

1. Size Matters in Alabama

A law passed in 2012 finally allowed the sale of beer bottles larger than 16 ounces. The new limit: a comparatively whopping 25.4 ounces, a.k.a. 750 milliliters. So, sorry 40-ouncers, you’re still not allowed at this party.

2. Florida’s Growler Policy Leaves Many Growling

In a quirk of the law in Florida, beer must be sold in containers either smaller than 32 ounces or larger than 128 ounces. Stuck in the middle is the industry-standard growler size of 64 ounces, leaving many who love the craft beer to-go jugs frustrated. But you can just buy two 32-ounce growlers. Yup, that’s perfectly legal.

3. Maine Respects St. Patrick’s Day

Maine’s hours for alcohol sales aren’t terribly restrictive. Most days, booze can be slung from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.—except on Sundays, when sales can’t commence until 9 a.m.

But what if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday? That very real scenario happened in 2013, leading the state legislature to pass a bill creating an exemption allowing 6 a.m. Sunday alcohol sales only if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday. Presumably, the populous celebrated the decision with green beer.

4. Does Indiana Like Its Beer Warm?

In Indiana, a legal fight is under way challenging a current state law that forces grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies to only sell beer warm. Oddly enough, selling cold beer at a liquor store is fine. Maybe that’s why the grocery store keeps its thermostat so low?

And don’t you laugh, Oklahoma: That state also restricts some beer sales by temperature.

5. Massachusetts Not Happy About Happy Hour

Did you know some states have banned happy hour? Massachusetts became a leader in the movement when the state broadly banned happy hours in 1984. The law doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon, either. Other states take similar stances on drink promotions including Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma and, as recently as 2012, Utah.

The trend isn’t all one directional though: Kansas brought happy hour back to life, also in 2012.

6. A Double Standard in Colorado?

The state that brought you legalized marijuana still has some qualms about its brews. In Colorado, most supermarkets and convenience stores can only sell beer that is 3.2 percent ABW (alcohol by weight) or lower. Stronger suds are relegated to liquor stores and other appropriately licensed establishments.

7. Eat Up in Utah

In Utah, restaurant patrons cannot purchase alcohol without also purchasing food. Things became so hotly contested, that in 2013 the state legislature had to clarify the law to allow waiters to serve drink orders while customers looked over the menu!

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MONEY Food & Drink

Sorry, Dude, You’ve Been Drinking the Wrong Beer for Years

Beer tasting
Daniel Grill—Getty Images

A blind taste test reveals that if you're loyal to a beer brand because of the taste, you just might be fooling yourself.

A new study from the American Association of Wine Economists explores the world of beer rather than wine, and the findings indicate that you could be buying a favorite brand of brew for no good reason whatsoever. While the experiments conducted were limited, the results show that when labels are removed from beer bottles, drinkers can’t tell different brands apart—sometimes even when one of those brands is the taster’s go-to drink of choice.

In the paper, the researchers first point to a classic 1964 study, in which a few hundred volunteer beer testers (probably wasn’t too hard to find folks willing to participate) were sent five different kinds of popular lager brands, each with noticeable taste differences according to the experts. But people who rated their preferred beer brands higher when the labels were on bottles “showed virtually no preferences for certain beers over others” when the labels were removed during tastings:

In the blind tasting condition, no beer was judged by its regular drinkers to be significantly better than the other samples. In fact, regular drinkers of two of the five beers scored other beers significantly higher than the brand that they stated was their favorite.

The new study takes a different, simpler path to judging the quality of beer drinkers’ taste buds. Researchers didn’t even bother with ratings data. Instead, the experiments consisted of blind taste tests with three European lagers—Czechvar (Czech Republic), Heineken (Netherlands), and Stella Artois (Belgium)—in order simply to find out if beer drinkers could tell them apart. The experiments involved a series of “triangle tests,” in which drinkers were given a trio of beers to taste, two of which were the same beer. Tasters were asked to name the “singleton” of the bunch, and generally speaking, they could not do so with any reliable degree of accuracy:

In two of three tastings, participants are no better than random at telling the lagers apart, and in the third tasting, they are only marginally better than random.

What these results tell researchers, then, is that beer drinkers who stick with a certain brand label may be buying the beer for just that reason—the label. As opposed to the taste and quality, which are the reasons that consumers would probably give for why they are brand loyalists.

As the researchers put it in the new study, “marketing and packaging cues may be generating brand loyalty and experiential differences between brands.” In other words, we buy not for taste but because of the beer’s image and reputation that’s been developed via advertising, logos, and other marketing efforts. Similar conclusions have been reached in studies about wine; one, for instance, found that wine drinkers will pay more for bottles with hard-to-pronounce names—because apparently we assume that a fancy name is a sign of better quality. We also buy beer, wine, and a wide range of other products due to force of habit, of course.

Drinkers who are loyal to a particular beer brand may hate to hear this—heck, so are consumers who are loyal to almost any product brand—but the research indicates we are heavily influenced by factors other than those we really should care about, such as quality and superior taste.

All that said, we must point out the study’s shortcomings. The beer tastings were very limited in scope. It’s not like tasters were asked to compare Bud Light and a hoppy craft IPA, and then failed to tell the difference. And just because some volunteers couldn’t differentiate between beers doesn’t mean that you, with your superior palate, would be just as clueless. You may very well buy your favorite beer brand because, to quote an old beer ad, it “tastes great.”

Just to be sure, though, it might be time to take the labels off and do some blind taste testing. Could make for a fun Saturday night.

MONEY Travel

Drink More Than 137 Beers, and a New Cruise Deal Is Totally Worth It

Draft beer glasses on rail of ship
iStock

Norwegian Cruise Lines just introduced an all-inclusive amenities package bound to get the attention of travelerswho love to eat and drink—and are tired of getting nickel-and-dimed.

Starting on August 4, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering a limited-time All-Inclusive package option for cruisers, in which one fee covers many of the extras not included in the basic cost of a cabin. The two biggies that are included are the Ultimate Beverage Package and the Ultimate Dining Package. They cover, respectively, nearly everything a passenger will drink and entrance to the ship’s specialty restaurants that normally cost extra. Also included are a host of other things passengers would otherwise have to pony up for: 20 photos taken by the on-board photography service, 250 minutes of Internet time, one bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, one bingo session, bottles of water throughout the cruise, a $100 or $200 credit for shore excursions, and gratuities for staffers.

How much does the package cost? The price depends on how long you’re cruising, but a seven-nighter is $899 per person, on top of the price of your stateroom. The option is being offered on a test basis now through August 29, for cruises lasting three to 14 days to nearly all destinations (not available on Pride of America sailings in Hawaii). If it proves to be a hit, we can expect the option to become permanent, and for it to inspire imitators from the competition.

The big question for cruise passengers is this: Is it worth it? Norwegian states that the package represents about $2,400 worth of value. (That’s per cabin, so for two people.) Travel Weekly, a publication aimed at travel agents, did its own math and concluded that a passenger paying a la carte for all of the included options would fork over $1,468 during the course of a seven-night cruise. In other words, you’d save $449 by going with the All-Inclusive package.

That’s quite a savings. But the customer only comes out on top if he or she actually wants the lion’s share of what’s included in the package. With the exception of gratuities—which are more or less mandatory—everything that’s included is totally optional. Essentially, you’re paying for bingo, bottled water, Internet time, photos, booze, and the rest even if you don’t partake of them. Travel Weekly pointed out that the commemorative photos included in the package, for instance, would run a fairly absurd $274. So if you wouldn’t pay for that in a million years, the deal might not be for you.

Let’s be honest: This package is going to appeal most to passengers who want to eat and drink to their heart’s content and not have to think about how much each and every beverage or meal is costing them. Some back-of-the-napkin math must be done, to see at what point the package makes sense for the individual.

That $899, for instance, would cover about 151 draft beers at $5.95 apiece, or 100 glasses of wine at $9 per. Subtract gratuities to the tune of $12 per day, or $84 for a seven-night cruise, and $815 is left—making the over-under 137 beers. Drink more than that, and you come out ahead. (You’ll also come away with one honey of a hangover, of course.) Add in seven meals at specialty restaurants at an average premium of $20 apiece, plus $29 for a bottle of wine, plus $100 for Internet time, and the math increasingly points in the package’s favor.

If nothing else, the offer should make it abundantly clear that the amount paid by cruise passengers above and beyond the cost of a cabin is often quite hefty. The big-ship cruise is billed as the ultimate no-hassle vacation. You pay for your room, and then you never have to touch your wallet while cruising. On virtually every mainstream cruise line, however, that’s not how things work. Regardless of whether or not you handle cash or swipe your credit card throughout the cruise, you are most definitely paying up for anything beyond the basics—alcoholic beverages, excursions, fancy coffees, restaurants that are nicer than the buffet, even soda. The expected gratuities are typically added automatically onto a customer’s bill.

Take a look at Norwegian’s specials and promotions and you’ll see several one-week cruises starting at well under $899, some for as little as $429. Those prices don’t include taxes and port charges—and they don’t include the extras mentioned above.

Does it make more sense to pay for it all upfront, via Norwegian’s new flat-price all-inclusive package? That depends a lot on whether you like the idea of handling nearly all of your vacation’s expenses in one fell swoop, rather than having every little purchase add up during the course of a cruise in nickel-and-dime fashion. It also depends a lot on how thirsty you typically are on vacation.

TIME Culture

Americans Really Like to Drink Beer, Says Unsurprising Poll

Beer Americans Stella Artois
Beer drinkers at Financier Patisserie in New York City on July 21, 2014. Rob Kim—Getty Images

But women still love wine

Bourbon may be booming and more wineries are cropping up all over the nation, yet Americans still prefer a cold brew over a glass of wine or whiskey.

According to Gallup, 41% of U.S. drinkers say they typically drink beer, compared with 31% who generally prefer wine and 23% who reach for liquor. It’s the biggest gap between beer and wine in six years.

While wine briefly outpaced beer in 2005, brews have remained the drink of choice for Americans since the 1990s, when almost half of Americans said they typically drink beer. Almost half of women, however, choose wine while only 17% of men choose it over other alcoholic drinks (57% opt for beer).

In June, the number of breweries in the U.S. reached 3,000 for the first time since before Prohibition, according to the Brewers Association, an industry trade group. Domestic wine production is also up, increasing by 6.3% in 2013, according to Wines & Vines magazine. But even with that growth, the percentage of adults who said they prefer wine dropped to 31% from 35% just a couple years ago. And despite the rise of craft distilleries and an uptick in sales of brown spirits like whiskey, just 23% of American drinkers choose spirits over beer and wine, a number virtually unchanged since 2002.

Gallup’s survey also found that 64% of U.S. adults say they drink alcohol, up from 60% a year ago, and they consume an average of just over 4 drinks per week.

TIME Food & Drink

The Beer List at This Bar Looks Like a Stock Ticker

Invest responsibly

The Beer Exchange

A bar in Kalamazoo, Michigan, takes the fun of happy hour to a whole new level.

The Beer Exchange has been going viral on Reddit and Imgur in the last day because its beer list resembles a stock ticker — or a Bloomberg Terminal that dispenses alcohol. It displays the current prices for various kinds of beer, and as demand for the different types ebbs and flows, the prices rise and fall. Once in a while, there’s even a market crash that brings the beverages to their all-time low.

It’s a happy hour all the time—as long as you’re interested in the right beer. But unlike stock trading, there’s no reward for buying low and selling high. Besides getting buzzed, that is.

MONEY Food & Drink

5 Beer Trends You’ll Be Seeing This Summer

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Joshua Rainey / Alamy

Your know-it-all beer geek friends may be a little annoying. But man, do they have great tips on what you should drink!

Here are some trends and hot topics being discussed in craft beer circles this summer. Read up if you’re interested in beer—or so you can pretend you know what your beer-nerd buddies are talking about.

The Craft Beer Motel
Sure, beer enthusiasts look, sniff, and savor their beloved brews. But sometimes that’s just not enough. For the beer lover who wants to take the relationship to the next level—sleeping together—Delaware’s Dogfish Head, regularly ranked among America’s best craft brewers, opened the Dogfish Inn in July. The lodge’s 16 rooms are described as being “filled with thoughtful, beer-centric amenities and design elements,” including beer-scented soap and shampoo, with rates starting in the mid-$200s. It’s located near the Dogfish brewpub, not far from the popular summer tourist area of Rehoboth Beach, but something tells us a lot of guests will never see the beach.

Beer Camp
Sierra Nevada, the second-biggest craft brewer in America (after Boston Beer Co./Samuel Adams), collaborated with a dozen smaller brewers to collectively produce Beer Camp. Yes, such a place exists: Since 2008, Sierra Nevada has hosted brewers, beer writers, and other industry folks to Northern California for an intensive two-day retreat known as Beer Camp. But this year, beer lovers around the country get to attend Beer Camp (sorta) with the purchase of a Beer Camp 12-pack, featuring a dozen beers created by Sierra Nevada and partner craft brewers around the country.

The collaborators include North Carolina’s Asheville Brewers Alliance, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company, and Wisconsin’s New Glarus. Not only are the collaboration brews themselves special, these are brands that may not be available normally in your neck of the woods. Thanks to Beer Camp, you can get a taste without traveling across the country.

We’ve Got Monks Who Brew, Too
Authentic Trappist beers, which are brewed by monks at Trappist monasteries, are regularly ranked among the world’s best. There are only 11 breweries in the world allowed to have the Trappist label, the best known of which is probably Belgium’s award-winning Chimay, sold in fancy corked bottles. As of June 2014, the U.S. has its own monk-brewed Trappist beer, thanks to the launch of the Spencer Trappist Ale brewery, hosted by St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass. The arrival of the monks’ internationally renowned beer label in the U.S. has drawn the attention of everyone from NPR to the Boston Globe, and “Good Morning America” to UK publications like Independent. And, of course, it’s gotten the attention of beer lovers.

Sour Beers
The Brewers Association, Thrillist, New York Post, tons of foodie restaurants, and the Serious Eats blog are among the many sources to proclaim sour beer as the style “beer geeks are buzzing over” this summer. This is despite the fact that the latter described a first smell of sour beer as “horse butt dabbed with vinegar and blue cheese.”

Despite the sharp, funky smell, sour brews, which have a tart, make-your-mouth-pucker, all-in-all sour taste, are supposedly the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer day. They’re not at all heavy or rich, like brews more suited for winter, yet sour beers may be a little extreme for the average Miller Lite drinker. That may be part of the reason why they’re so hot among craft beer aficionados.

The Sad (But Righteous) Decline of Light Beer
Any beer nerd worth his salt wouldn’t bother talking about a pathetic pale American “beer” like Coors Light or Bud Light Platinum. That is, unless the talk was about how poorly these mass-produced brews have been faring in the marketplace, thanks at least partly because consumers are opening their eyes to joys and superior taste of local craft beers.

Earlier this year, Pete Coors, the chairman at Molson Coors, lamented to the Denver Post about bars removing the taps of mass-market brews like Bud and Coors Light and bringing in craft beers on draught to take their place. “We have a lot of bar owners who are enamored with craft beers,” Coors said. “They are beginning to take off the premium light handles and putting bottles behind the bar instead and replacing the handles with craft beer handles.”

Light beer sales have been declining for years, as has the market share for big beer brands in general, but lately the drop must put the world’s biggest brewers in an especially bitter mood. Businessweek recently cited data indicating that light beer sales fell 3.5% last year, including a 19% dip for Bud Light Platinum, and that domestic light brew sales will hit a 10-year low in 2015. And in beer-crazed places such as Oregon, more than half of the draft beer served is now craft product that’s brewed in the state.

MONEY Millennials

10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

Young businessman with groceries and bicycle
Valentine—Getty Images/Fuse

By 2017, millennials will have more buying power than any other generation. But so far, they're not spending like their parents did.

Millennials are often maligned for their lack of financial literacy, but there is one money skill the younger generation has in spades: saving. After growing up during the Great Recession, millennials want to keep every cent they can. (If you don’t believe us, just check out this Reddit Frugal thread inspired by our recent post on millennial retirement super-saving.)

This generation may be way ahead of where their parents were at the same age when it comes to preparing for retirement, but the frugality doesn’t end there. Kids these days also aren’t making the same buying decisions our parents made. Here are 10 things that a disproportionate number of today’s young adults won’t shell out for.

1. Pay TV
The average American still consumes 71% of his or her media on television, but for people age 14-24, it’s only 46%—with the lion’s share being consumed on phone, tablet, or PC. Many young people aren’t getting a TV at all. Nielsen found that most “Zero-TV” households tended toward the younger set, with adults under 35 making up 44% of all television teetotalers.

Millennials aren’t the only ones tuning out the tube. In 2013, Nielsen reported aggregate TV watching time shrank for the first time in four years.

2. Investments
By all accounts, young people should be investing in equities. Those just entering the work force have plenty of time before retirement to ride out market blips, and experts recommend younger investors place 75% to 90% of their portfolio in stocks or stock funds.

Unfortunately, after growing up in the Great Recession, millennials would rather put their money in a sock drawer than on Wall Street. When Wells Fargo surveyed roughly 1,500 adults between 22 and 32 years of age, 52% stated they were “not very” or “not at all” confident in the stock market as a place to invest for retirement.

Of those surveyed, only 32% said they had the majority of their savings in stocks or mutual funds. (Too be fair, an equal number admitted to having no clue what they were invested in, so hopefully their trust fund advisors are making good decisions.)

3. Mass-Market Beer
Bud. Coors. Miller. When parents want a drink, they reach for the classics. Maybe a Heineken for a little extra adventure. Millennials? Not so much. When Generation Now (thank god that moniker didn’t catch on) wants to get boozy, the data says we prefer indie brews.

According to one recent study, 43% of millennials say craft beer tastes better than mainstream beers, while only 32% of baby boomers said the same. And 50% of millennials have consumed craft brew, versus 35% of the overall population. Even Pete Coors, CEO of guess-which-brand, blames pesky kids for his beer’s declining sales.

4. Cars
Back when the Beach Boys wrote Little Deuce Coupe in 1963, there was a whole genre called “Car Songs.” Nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find someone under 35 who knows what a “competition clutch with the four on the floor” even means.

The sad fact is that American car culture is dying a slow death. Yahoo Finance reports the percentage of 16-to-24-year-olds with a driver’s license has plummeted since 1997 and is now below 70% for the first time since Little Deuce Coupe’s release. According to the Atlantic, “In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985.”

5. Homes
It’s not that millennials don’t want to own homes—nine in ten young people do—it’s that they can’t afford them. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that homeownership rate among adults younger than 35 fell by 12 percent between 2006 and 2011, and 2 million more were living with Mom and Dad.

It’s going to be a while before young people start purchasing homes again. The economic downturn set this generation’s finances back years, and reforms like the Dodd-Frank Act have made it even more difficult for the newly employed to get credit. Now that unemployment is decreasing, working millennials are still renting before they buy.

6. Bulk Warehouse Club Goods
This one initially sounds weird, but remember: millennials don’t own cars or homes. So a Costco membership doesn’t make much sense. It’s not easy to bring home a year’s supply of Nesquik and paper towels without a ride, and even if you take a bus, there’s no room to stash hoards of kitchen supplies in a studio apartment.

Responding to tepid millennial demand, the big box giant is trying to win over youngsters by partnering with Google to deliver certain items right to your home. However, even Costco doesn’t seem all that excited about its new strategy.

“Don’t expect us to go to everybody’s doorstep,” Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Delivering small quantities of stuff to homes is not free. Ultimately, somebody’s got to pay for it.”

7. Weddings
Getting hitched early in life used to be something of a rite of passage into adulthood. A full 65% of the Silent Generation married at age 18 to 32. Since then, though, Americans have been waiting longer and longer to tie the knot. Pew Research found 48% of boomers were married while in that age range, compared to 35% in Gen X. Millennials are bringing up the rear at just 26%.

Just like with homes, it’s not that today’s youth just hates wedding dresses—far from it. Sixty-nine percent of millennials told Pew they would like to marry, but many are waiting until they’re more financially stable before doing so.

8. Children
It’s hard to spend money on children if you don’t have any.

After weddings, you probably saw this one coming, but millennials’ procreation abstention isn’t only because they’re not married. Many just aren’t planning on having kids. In a 2012 study, fewer than half of millennials (42%) said they planned to have children. That’s down from 78% 20 years ago.

Stop me if you heard this one: it’s not that millennials don’t want children (or homes, or weddings, or ponies), it’s that this whole recession thing has really scared them off any big financial or life commitments. Most young people in the above study hoped to have kids one day, but didn’t think their economic stars would align to make it happen.

9. Health insurance
According the Kaiser Family Foundation, adults ages 18 to 34 made up 40% of the uninsured population in the pre-Obamacare world. Why don’t young people get health coverage? Because they’re probably not going to get sick. This demographic is so healthy that those in the health insurance game refer to them as “invincibles.”

Since the Affordable Care Act, more millennials are gradually buying insurance. Twenty-eight percent of Obamacare’s 8 million new enrollees were 18-34 year-olds. That’s well short of the 40% the Congressional Budget Office wanted in order to subsidize older Americans’ plans, but better than the paltry number of millennials who signed up before Zach Galifianakis got involved.

10. Anything you tell them to buy
When buying a product, older Americans tend to trust the advice of people they know. Sixty-six percent of boomers said the recommendations of friends and family members influences their purchasing decisions more than a stranger’s online review.

Most millennials, on the other hand, don’t want their parent’s or peer’s help. Fifty-one percent of young adults say they prefer product reviews from people they don’t know.

Related: 10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying

TIME Beer

Australia Has a ‘Beer Can Regatta’ Every Year

Check out those cans!

+ READ ARTICLE

Each year, Australia’s Mindil beach plays host to the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta, a waterborne festival that celebrates the virtues of charitable giving and one’s instinct for building seaworthy vessels out of improvised materials (as you can see from the video).

The event began on June 16, 1974, and has been held annually ever since. This year marks its 40th anniversary, and is irrefutable proof that Aussies are just better at having fun than the rest of us.

TIME drinking

10 States That Drink the Most Beer

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich

In recent years, Americans have increasingly moved away from beer consumption in favor of wines and spirits. U.S. beer consumption fell slightly from 28.3 gallons per drinking-aged adult in 2012 to 27.6 gallons last year.

Despite declining across the United States overall, beer consumption remains quite high in some states. According to a recent study from Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher, North Dakota residents consumed 43.3 gallons of beer per drinking-age adult in 2013, the most of any state. This was more than double the 19.6 gallons per legal age adult consumed in Utah, which drank the least beer. Based on figures from Beer Marketer’s Insights, these are the states that drink the most beer.

Between 2002 and 2012, the share of Americans’ total alcohol intake coming from beer has declined. The average drinking age adult drank the equivalent of 1.39 gallons of pure ethanol alcohol from beer in 2002, with a total intake of 2.39 gallons from all drinks consumed. In 2012, Americans pure alcohol intake was 2.46 gallons per person. Americans’ alcohol intake from wine and spirits rose by 15.2% and 20.9%, respectively, between 2002 and 2012. Meanwhile, intake from beer dropped by 8.6%.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

While some of the states that drink the most beer generally followed this national trend, other states did not. Between 2002 and 2012, alcohol intake from beer consumption declined by 17.4% in Nevada, one of the top beer drinking states. In that time, alcohol intake from wine rose by more than 30%. On the other hand, alcohol intake from beer rose by more than 10% in both Vermont and Maine, also among the top beer drinking states.

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of health problems. One in 10 deaths among working age adults in the United States is due to excessive drinking, according to figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the study, “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.” Leading the nation in beer consumption, however, did not necessarily increase years lost per legal-age adult. Only three of the top beer drinking states exceeded the national average for years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents between 2006 and 2010.

According to Mandy Stahre, a co-author on the CDC’s study and an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, health outcomes such as alcohol attributable death rates are influenced by a number of factors, not only drinking patterns. “The number and the enforcement of alcohol control policies … sociodemographics, religious affiliation, race and ethnicity” all can play a role in determining the health consequences of drinking.

In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Eric Shepard, vice president and executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, highlighted a study from the U.K.-based Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank. The study explores the relationship between problematic drinking and consumption levels.

Policy makers often believe that high per capita consumption leads to excessive drinking, which includes heavy and binge drinking. However, the study’s authors contend that “per capita alcohol consumption largely depends on the amount of heavy drinking in the population, not vice versa.” Stahre added the she, too, was aware of studies that showed “a good proportion of the alcohol that was consumed was being consumed in a manner [associated with] binge drinking.”

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

The states with the highest beer consumption rates also had high rates of heavy drinking — defined as more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women. In Montana and Wisconsin, 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers as of 2012, tied for the most in the United States and well above the national rate of 6.1%. Additionally, seven of the states that drink the most beer had among the 10 highest rates of binge drinking — defined by the CDC for women as consuming four or more drinks, and five or more drinks in the case of men, during a single sitting.

Interestingly, while excessive alcohol use is hardly a healthy behavior, many of the states with the highest beer consumption rates were also likely to practice a range of healthy behaviors such as exercising regularly and eating well. People in Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Vermont, for example, were all among the most likely Americans to eat healthy all day last year. Residents of Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont were among the most likely to exercise regularly.

Stahre noted, however, that people are often better at keeping track of other behaviors than they are about drinking. “Because if you aren’t paying the bill or not paying attention to the number of drinks you have, you could really be underestimating what your consumption is.”

To identify the states with the highest beer consumption rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Beer Marketer’s Insights’ recent report on alcohol consumption. Drinking habits were measured in gallons shipped to distributors annually per 100,000 drinking-age adults. Adult heavy and binge drinking statistics are from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and are for 2012. We also utilized figures from a recent CDC study, titled “Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States.” This study examined data from 2006 through 2010 for Americans of all ages. We also reviewed healthy behaviors and health outcomes from Gallup’s 2013 HealthWays Well-Being Index. Economic data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Brewery totals are from the Beer Institute’s 2013 Brewer’s Almanac and are for 2012. Tax data are from the Federation of Tax Administrators and are current as of January 2014.

These are the states that drink the most beer.

5. Vermont
> Per capita consumption: 35.9 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.02 gallons (7th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 19.3% (10th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 25

While Americans nationwide drank less beer in 2012 than they did in 2002, Vermonters consumed 11.2% more alcohol from beer. This was the largest increase in the country. The dramatic spike may be due in part to growing enthusiasm for craft beers, for which Vermont has become famous. Several local Vermont beers have been rated among the world’s best, and in some cases black markets have emerged in the wake of excess demand. Like several other states with the highest beer consumption rates, wine has also become considerably more popular in recent years. Drinking-age Vermonters consumed nearly one-fifth of a gallon more alcohol from wine in 2012 than they did in 2002, the largest increase in gallons nationwide, and roughly four times the increase across the country.

4. South Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 38.1 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 2.94 gallons (8th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 20.6% (8th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 10

South Dakota adults consumed 11.4% more pure alcohol in 2012 than they did in 2002, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. Most of this increase came from spikes in wine and spirits consumption. While alcohol intake from beer grew by less than 1% — still one of the larger increases nationwide — legal-age adults in South Dakota increased both their wine and spirits intake by more than 30% over that time. Binge drinking may have contributed substantially to the state’s consumption totals. More than 20% of legal-age adults in South Dakota reported consuming at least four drinks in a sitting in 2012, among the highest binge drinking rates nationwide.

3. Montana
> Per capita consumption: 40.5 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.13 gallons (6th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 21.8% (5th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 31

A legal age Montana resident consumed an average of 40.5 gallons of beer in 2013, down from more than 43 gallons in 2009. Montana residents were largely beer drinkers, even though the state ranked 12th in total alcohol intake from spirits in 2012, per capita intake from wine was roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Dangerous drinking was also quite common in the state, where 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers in 2012, tied with Wisconsin for highest rate in the nation. Additionally, almost 22% of the adult population engaged in binge drinking, more than in all but a few states. High levels of drinking had notable health implications for residents as well. There were 37.7 alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000 residents in Montana between 2006 and 2010, more than in all but two other states.

2. New Hampshire
> Per capita consumption: 42.2 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 4.74 gallons (the highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 17.0% (22nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 21

New Hampshire trailed only one other state in total per capita beer consumption in 2013, and it was the nation’s leading state for beer drinking as recently as 2011. Additionally, New Hampshire led the nation in per capita intake of alcohol in 2012, with residents drinking the equivalent of 4.7 gallons of pure alcohol that year on average, versus 2.5 gallons per legal adult nationwide. However, these figures may be somewhat distorted by sales to non-residents by liquor stores located near state borders. Visitors often buy liquor and wine in the state because of the lack of tax at state-run liquor stores.

1. North Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 43.3 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.69 gallons (2nd highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 24.1% (2nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 4

North Dakota residents are the nation’s largest beer drinkers, consuming an average of 43.3 gallons per drinking age adult in 2013. One reason for this may be binge drinking. In 2012, more than 24% of the adult population reported binge drinking, more than in any state except for Wisconsin. Between 2002 and 2012, North Dakota led the nation with a 24% increase in pure alcohol consumption per capita. By comparison, consumption nationwide rose by slightly less than 3% in that time. Most of the increase in alcohol intake between 2002 and 2012 came from higher spirits consumption. High levels of beer consumption, binge drinking and alcohol intake may be related to the state’s attractiveness to younger Americans looking for work. North Dakota had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 2013 and has had the nation’s fastest growing state economy in each of the past four years.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME fourth of july

This Beer Brand’s Fourth of July Tweet Is Just Too Much

Why replace white stripes in the American flag with beer?

Bud Light took patriotism to a whole new — and strange — level when it sent the tweet below of a revamped version of the American flag to its more than 80,000 Twitter followers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 3.44.34 PM

Maybe it makes sense to replace the stars in the flag with fireworks for the Fourth of July, but replacing white stripes with beer pitchers goes too far, don’t you think?

 

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