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South Dakotans fourth in the nation in beer consumption

Melissa Wintersteen, a bartender at Dr. Lucky's Bar and Grill in Mitchell, pours a dark beer Saturday afternoon. South Dakotans drank, on average, the fourth most beer of any state’s residents last year, according to a recent study. (Chris Mueller/Republic) 1 / 2
Melissa Wintersteen, a bartender at Dr. Lucky's Bar and Grill in Mitchell, pours a beer Saturday afternoon. South Dakotans drank, on average, the fourth most amount of beer of any state’s residents last year, according to a recent study. (Chris Mueller/Republic)2 / 2

South Dakotans of legal drinking age drank, on average, the fourth most amount of beer of any state's residents last year.

Residents of South Dakota who were old enough to drink in 2013 downed an average of about 38 gallons of beer per person -- or nearly 68 six packs per person. That made the state's residents fourth in the nation in per-capita beer consumption for the second straight year, according to 24/7 Wall Street, which used data from a recent study by Beer Marketer's Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher.

The study calculated the per capita rankings by dividing the amount of beer shipped to a state by the state's population of residents old enough to drink.

Residents of legal drinking age in North Dakota drank the most beer per capita in the nation last year, also for the second straight year, consuming an average of about 43 gallons each.

New Hampshire was second at about 42 gallons and Montana was third at about 40 gallons. Vermont, at about 36 gallons per person, came in fifth. Utah, where residents drank the least beer per capita in the nation, consumed about 20 gallons of beer per drinking-aged adult.

When County Fair Food Stores completed an extensive renovation of its store in Mitchell in March 2013, it more than tripled its selection of craft beers, according to Justin Luther, the store's manager.

"It's definitely paid off for us," Luther said. "It's been a great addition."

Luther said County Fair's beer selection has been received well by customers, so the store has continued to focus on its beer selection since the renovation was finished.

"We keep adding variety as much as we can," he said. "It's just a growing section, our beer."

According to the Beer Institute, a national trade organization, retail sales of beer in the U.S. totaled about $105.5 billion in 2013, up about 1 percent from 2012.

But all those drinks haven't come without other costs.

More than 22 percent of adults and 26 percent of high school students reported binge drinking in 2011, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The costs associated with excessive alcohol use cost states in 2006 ranged from $420 million in North Dakota to $32 billion in California, according to a CDC study released last year. Those costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.

In South Dakota, the cost of excessive drinking in 2006 was $542.2 million, with a cost per drink of $1.60 and a cost per capita of $693, the study says.

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