For millions of Americans, autumn is the arrival of cooler weather and fall foliage. And for millions of others it's all about football (high school, college and/or pro) and prolific beer consumption (domestic and/or imported).
Many of us are simply hard-wired to unwind and blow off some steam by gathering with friends at home, or at our favorite taverns, or with tens of thousands of intensely loyal fans who believe their presence at the stadium might influence the game's outcome and is, therefore, mandatory. We eat and drink voraciously for many hours; and, as the day nears its end, we hope someone is sober enough to drive home. (Hey, do you remember where we parked the car?)
Does that sound like you or someone you know?
Yes, anyone drinking wine or whiskey is just as much of a threat and probably not as entertaining, but Americans drink more beer, by far, than any other alcohol beverage.
A report from the Beer Institute identifies the states that have the highest percentage of heavy beer drinkers, and, arguably pose the greatest risk to motorists and our ability to safely reach our destinations.
Here's what the Beer Institute reports:
In 2012, nationwide per capita consumption (among persons 21 years and older) averaged 28.2 gallons for the year.
States with the highest beer consumption per capita in the U.S:
1. N. Dakota; 45.8 gallons
2. New Hampshire; 43.9 gallons
3. Montana; 31.4 gallons
4. S. Dakota; 38.9 gallons
5. Wisconsin; 36.2 gallons
6. Nevada; 35.8 gallons
7. Vermont; 35.3 gallons
8. Nebraska; 35.2 gallons
9. Texas; 34.4 gallons
10. Maine; 34.0 gallons
Here's the complete list:
U.S. beer consumption by state
In North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, high consumption appears to be driven by the type of jobs in the state. Relative to the rest of the country, these states have booming energy, farming and construction industries, and, these jobs are traditionally filled by men aged 25 to 54, which is target audience for beer-drinking demographics.
Believe it or not, total consumption of beer in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year, according to the Beer Institute. Since 2008, total beer consumption has fallen by as much as 11% in some states.
Nonetheless, as a nation we're guzzling more than 6 billion gallons annually. There appears to be a strong relationship between the amount of beer purchased in a state and the prevalence of drinking — both casual and heavy — within the state. Based on a Centers for Disease Control survey for 2011, all 10 states above had a larger-than-average proportion of residents who reported binge drinking.
We know that old habits die hard. Before you go out this weekend, think about drinking in moderation. Think about cutting back. Be sure you can get home safely and bring a designated driver with you. Reward him or her significantly for keeping you safe because those kinds of friends save all of us.