NEW HAMPSHIRE: LIVE FREE AND DRINK BEERS
Our neighbor to the north has earned itself quite a distinction. Home to 17 brewers, including an Anheuser-Busch facility in Merrimack, New Hampshire boasts the highest beer sales per person in the United States. In 2O1O, an average of 32.7 gallons of beer, the equivalent of nearly 35O 12-ounce cans, were sold per legal drinking-age person in New Hampshire, according to estimates from industry lobbying group, the Beer Institute. The overall rate for the rest of the country was 2O.7 gallons. In addition to high consumption by residents, Lester Jones, the Beer Institute’s chief economist, says sales are boosted by New Hampshire’s lack of a sales tax, drawing shoppers from surrounding states who can stock up on beer along with other goods at a lower price. Following New Hampshire is Montana, with per-capita beer sales of 3O.5 gallons, North Dakota at 29.8 gallons, South Dakota at 27.5 gallons, and Nevada at 26.8 gallons. Utah had the lowest consumption rate, 12.4 gallons per person, followed by Connecticut at 16.2 gallons, New York at 16.5 gallons, and New Jersey at 16.8 gallons. While you might logically think that Massachusetts has a substantial drinking crowd, New Hampshire trumps us. The state has the highest rate of total alcohol use, 63.1 percent, compared with a US rate of 51.4 percent, according to the most recent survey by the Health and Human Services Department. Utah has the lowest rate at 27.8 percent. Interestingly, the large population of drinkers does not make New Hampshire a leader in binge drinking. The state’s binge drinking rate is 25.9 percent, compared with the US rate of 23.3 percent. North Dakota has the most binge drinkers at 32.6 percent. Of course, New Hampshire’s beer industry does get a boost from cross-border sales due to the lack of sales tax or bottle deposit. Maine has a 5 percent sales tax and Vermont 6 to 7 percent. But people aren’t crossing the border just to save money on beer. There are numerous strip malls and big box retailers strategically set up in border areas to entice shoppers as well.