The average Ohioan downed more than 300 beers last year, according to a new analysis released Tuesday by the Beer Institute.
The Washington, D.C., lobbying group estimated that state residents of legal drinking age consumed 30.1 gallons of beer, which equals 321 12-ounce brews per person.
Think that’s a lot? It ranked only 23rd among all states — well behind North Dakota where residents consumed a nation-leading 45.8 gallons per capita.
Utah brought up the rear with 20.2 gallons.
The national average was 28.2 gallons.
“That’s surprising,” Phil Kunkel, 53, of Green, said about the Ohio estimate as he bought a six-pack of Coors Light at Lakes Beverage on South Main Street in Green.
He said he doesn’t drink anywhere near that much beer and he wondered who is out there making up the difference.
“That’s a lot of beer,” he said. “It really is.”
Considering there are 365 days in a year and the average was 321 beers, Kunkel also joked: “So did they take a month off?”
Jeff Ewart, co-manager of Lakes Beverage, said he knows that craft beer sales are increasing but he had no clue that beer consumption was so high. The business, which recently beefed up its craft beer selection, stocks about 400 beer brands. It also sells eight beers on draft in 64-ounce growlers.
He questioned whether the figure is inflated.
The Beer Institute reported that beer consumption rose 1.5 percent last year as the economy rebounded and above normal winter and spring temperatures helped boost beer sales.
Meanwhile, Ohio ranked seventh when it came to beer shipments last year, with 8.1 million 31-gallon barrels shipped, the group said.
The Beer Institute released the statistics in advance of the Fourth of July, the top beer-selling holiday. Last year, sales around July 4 hit $1.36 billion.
“From hops producers to can and bottle makers in communities across the country, beer is an economic engine that contributes more than $246 billion to the U.S. economy,” Beer Institute President Joe McClain said in a prepared statement.