America as a nation drinks astounding quantities of bad beer, and in particular the “light,” that is, lower-calorie, versions of bad beers.
Here are a few stats.
The four best-selling beers in the United States in 2016, in terms of millions of barrels, and overall market share:
Bud Light 35.250 16.2%
Coors Light 17.125 7.9%
Budweiser 14.375 6.6%
Miller Lite 13.240 6.2%
The latest numbers indicate that Miller Lite has passed Budweiser, meaning that the three best-selling beers in America, accounting by themselves for nearly one-third of all beers sold in the country, are light beers. (In case you’re wondering, the thousands of craft brews made available by the contemporary American beer renaissance account collectively for about 15% of total market share and 7% of total product volume, although these figures are climbing slowly).
Breaking down what these numbers mean in terms of consumption:
The more than 35 million barrels of Bud Lite sold in 2016 are equal to just under 1.1 billion gallons of beer. This in turn equals about 11,659,642,500 12-ounce containers of the wretched substance.
Continuing the dismal science of unpacking these figures, that’s equivalent to about 47 Bud Lights consumed by every American adult in 2016. But of course averages are deceptive (as Francis Galton observed, on average Switzerland is flat).
The vast majority of Americans drank no Bud Light in 2016. In fact the total number of people who drank Bud Light at any point in the previous month during that year is estimated to have been about 28.5 million. That, as it were, is the Bud Light nation — a nation not much smaller than Canada or California, whose residents imbibed an average of 409(!) Bud Lights in 2016.
Given the typical distribution of consumption within this sort of cohort, this means that the 10% of regular Bud Light drinkers who performed the most herculean feats — that is, a group made up of nearly three million people — must have each on average drunk many thousands of Bud Light beers in the course of the year that, coincidentally, Donald Trump got elected president of the United States.
I would be interested to learn how it is that Americans got hooked on the idea that it makes sense to drink already-tasteless swill in an even more vile low-calorie form, but I think I need a drink.