I moved to Montana because it had been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. I wanted to be in the beauty of Big Sky Country with all of its mountains and wild life . . . and, very few people. Yes, I said very few people . . . less than seven per mile while the average for the United States is 87.4 . . . as an introvert, Montana is about as close to heaven as one can get. So far, it has been everything that I thought it would be . . . but, now, there is an added bonus . . . Montana is number one.
That’s right. Montana is number one . . . and, you will never guess what Montana is number one in. Beautiful mountains . . . maybe, but lots of states have beautiful mountains. Abundant wild life? Sure we have just about every critter anyone would ever want to see in the great outdoors of America . . . but, we are not the only state with those critters. Fewest people . . . no, there are fewer people in the Dakotas per square mile I imagine. Nope, none of those things. Montana is considered the number one state in the whole United States of America for beer lovers. Yep, that is right . . . Montana is a beer lover’s paradise.
On the Motley Fool website an article, beer tazes at49 states’ butts. Now this was not one of those humorous polls that pop up on Facebook, no this was hardcore research using facts. The rankings were based on certain criteria such as: annual beer consumption per capita, gallons; breweries per 100,000 people; bars per 100,000 people; and, beer excise taxes per gallon. Using these numbers . . . Montana came out being the best state for beer lovers . . . beating out Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and California (all states with more people).
Wyoming had the lowest at two cents a gallon. Now it is probably not because they love their beer as much as they hate taxes. Since they won’t tax people’s income, they put a small tax on their beer. Overall, Wyoming could move to number one next year if they would just drink more beer. With the traffic on the highways leading to Billings, one would think that they do all their drinking in Montana before heading home. Montana ranked 11th in the beer tax category . . . 14 cents per gallon. Shoot it is worth paying the extra 12 cents to stay out of Wyoming!
In the area of beer consumption, North Dakota was number one at 45.8 gallons per capita . . . followed closely by New Hampshire at 43.9 . . . and the then Montana at 41 gallons. That is a lot of beer to consume, but have you ever been to North Dakota or New Hampshire . . . it is enough to make anyone drink. But the fact is, North Dakota and Montana loves their beer. It is a part of their roots, lifestyle, and strong outdoorsy bent. Hey, long winters don’t help much either . . . shovel snow or drink beer? Duh, apparently we Montanans drink beer! Remember winter is nine months here in Montana . . . nine months that we endure for three fabulous, beautiful, awe-inspiring months that we call summer.
Vermont had the most breweries per capita at 6.38 per 100,000 people. They must have crowed breweries. Montana had 4.6 breweries per 100,000 people to rank third in this category. This is one time when having a love for brewing beer, drinking beer, and only a million people in the whole state is an advantage. Again, brewing beer is a big hobby around here thanks to long, cold winters. The scary thing about this is that there seems to be new breweries popping up around the state each month! At the rate that new breweries keep being born . . . well, Montana could easily move up to number in this category in a couple of years. One of the great road trips in Montana is sort of like a pub crawl except it is hitting all the breweries is one swooping trip. I almost pulled that off in the first two years of living in Montana . . . but I missed it by three breweries. Now it is a pipe dream as I am now approximately twenty breweries behind . . . always searching for that elusive beer!
The one category of statistics that Montana did win was in the category of bars per capita . . . yeppers, we were number one. Got to have a place to drink all of that finely brewed brew. Montana has 59.3 bars per 100,000 people . . . that is a lot of bars. In the little town where I live there used to be three bars for the 1,000 people who lived here, but we are now down to two . . . I am not sure whether or not that is even close to the average for the state, but bars are crowded and I don’t like crowds . . . outside of a meal or two at the local bars I really haven’t stepped into them since moving here. Shoot, the wife cooks better than any bar food and the beer is cheaper at my house. We Montanan’s might be sots, but we aren’t stupid!
I did not move to Montana because of the beer . . . though it was a nice bonus to discover such wonderful beer being brewed all around. Outside of our three months of summer, Montana takes a beating because of its cold weather, low population, and lack of cultural . . . well, it was nice to finally be recognized as being number one at something. We beat out all of the big boys in this race . . . Wisconsin was number two . . . Oregon was number four . . . Colorado (supposedly a brewer’s paradise) was number eight . . . California was 35th! Montana even beat out the nation’s capital—Washington, D.C.—which came in a distant 32nd! Bringing in the bottom at 51st place was Tennessee. Man, it feels good to be number one!
No one denies the beauty of Big Sky Country . . . it is beautiful. No one denies its wildness . . . we have all the critters anyone would ever want to see and encounter. No one is going to deny its sparse population . . . there are not many of us out here in God’s country. All reasons why I chose to move to Montana when I had the opportunity. And, now no one is going to deny that Montanans love their beer . . . the fact prove it. Just an added bonus for making the move. We are number one . . . and, we will bask in the glow and warmth of being number one . . . at least until the next statistics come out. But in the meantime, we will continue to seek the elusive beer . . . it is out there somewhere. Most Montanans have seen glimpses of the beer, usually after three or four brews . . . the beer is out there . . . somewhere . . . with the jack-a-lopes and snipes. Being number one only breeds greater hope! We’re number one! We’re number one!