Beer consumption spans almost the entire world, and is a staple in much of the United States.
As Visual Capitalist's Polly Eaton details below, when stacked up next to other alcoholic beverages, beer is America’s preferred drink of choice, closely followed by wine and spirits. In fact, it is the fifth most-consumed drink overall in the country, behind coffee, water, soft drinks and tea.
At the end of 2021, beer in the U.S. was a $94.1 billion industry. Alongside massive multinational conglomerations, it is also driven by over 9,000 breweries of different types.
This visualization, created by Victor Dépré of Hypntic Data, maps the consumption of beer by gallons per capita across the U.S. using data from Top Agency and The Beer Institute.
What is Beer?
Beer is produced from the fermentation of combined water, malt, and yeast. It was first produced 12,000 years ago with the emergence of grain agriculture.
Today, beer is made from several different malted grains: wheat, corn, rice, oats, and most commonly, barley. Hops, a type of flower, are added for flavor, balancing out the malt’s sweetness with a bitter taste while also preserving the beer’s freshness and giving a good amount of foam.
American Beer Consumption By State
So which states drank the most beer, and what was their preferred brand?
The annual consumption stats come from the Beer Institute’s Brewer’s Almanac report, while the preferred beer of choice was compiled by Data Agency’s 2021 Beer Rankings report, which is based on a combination of surveys combined with Google search analysis from all over the country.
New Hampshire took the top spot in 2020, outdrinking other states with 41.5 gallons of beer consumed annually per capita. In contrast, the lowest consuming state was Maryland which only consumed 19.7 gallons per capita, about half as much.
The most popular beer?
Despite the growing trend of craft breweries in some states, the most popular beer across the country was Budweiser of Anheuser-Busch, which took the top spot in 23 states.
Which State Has The Most Breweries?
Each state also has varying numbers of breweries operating within, and there are many different types.
Larger breweries, including those run by some of the world’s largest companies, are also called macrobreweries. They are usually defined as having an annual production greater than 6 million barrels of beer, compared to craft breweries and other types of microbreweries which have a lower annual production.
Craft breweries are also usually independently owned, and through both positioning and general perception, have come to be associated with specialties and originality, adding unique and interesting ingredients to traditional brews.
California has the highest number of breweries in the country, more than double any other state, at 1,466.
On the flip side, Mississippi has the fewest breweries, with the most recent Beer Institute’s 2021 almanac only listing 26 in the entire state.
Beer Sales During the Pandemic
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, commonplace items saw massive spikes in sales across the world.
As lockdowns were implemented and people were forced to stay at home, household items like toilet paper, soap, and pastas began to disappear from store shelves at alarmingly fast rates. Beer was no exception, and sales have continued to increase, going up by 8.9% in the U.S. since 2020.
This is a worrisome fact to many researchers, as it could be a strong indicator that alcohol was used as a coping mechanism against anxiety and isolation felt during the pandemic. This rise could be a result of increased consumption, but may also indicate increased stockpiling.
Regardless of why beer sales increased, it will be interesting to see which way the trend swings with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the attempted return to normalcy in the months to come.