In the 1790s in the United States, the average American over the age of fifteen consumed almost six gallons of pure alcohol per annum. The modern figure is 2.8.
As many of you already know, this wasn’t due to the fact that our forefathers were inebriated sots, at least not all of them. More important was the fact that ale and beer were the primary means of quenching thirst, as sources for clean drinking water were rare. Thanks to the brewing process, one could be reasonably assured of not getting dysentery, and other similar diseases, from drinking a pint.