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WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 05, 2013, 01:03 PM

ND tops in nation in beer shipments per capita

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Bottoms up! North Dakota is tops in the nation in beer shipments per capita, if age is taken into account, though not everyone views it as a good thing.

By: Associated Press, WDAY

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Bottoms up! North Dakota is tops in the nation in beer shipments per capita, if age is taken into account, though not everyone views it as a good thing.

The analysis done by the Beer Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing brewers, importers and suppliers, found that nearly 46 gallons of beer were shipped to North Dakota for every person of legal drinking age last year. Put another way, it's about 82 six-packs for every person.

New Hampshire was second at about 44 gallons, followed by Montana with 41 gallons and South Dakota with 39 gallons.

Many liquor shop owners in Fargo told The Forum newspaper (http://bit.ly/19Yw0sv ) on Wednesday that they couldn't comment on the study because they were too busy handling the Fourth of July rush.

"It's busy like Christmas," said Randy Lee, assistant manager at Steve's Package Store.

Jamie Coppin, manager at Bernie's Wines and Liquors, estimates that about 50 percent of his sales come from beer.

"There's not a whole lot to do out here besides drink beer, I guess," he said with a laugh.

North Dakota also has the most bars per capita in the country — about one for every 1,620 North Dakotans, according to a Forum analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. There also is one liquor store per 1,937 residents, sixth most nationwide.

But what's good for beer sellers might not be so great for the community as a whole, said Pamela Sageness, prevention administrator for the Department of Human Services.

A pair of 2010 studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that North Dakotans binge drink more often, and in greater quantities, than almost all Americans.

North Dakota has had high alcohol consumption levels for at least the past decade, Sageness said.

"They wouldn't ship this much if there wasn't the consumption," she said of the Beer Institute data.

Sageness said the state's culture — "where a six-pack is a serving" — needs to change.

"It's not something that can just be done from a legislative perspective," she said. "I certainly admire and respect the efforts that are being made. We have to look bigger than just policymakers. We have to look to community."

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