We have the Rust Belt and Bible Belt and Sun Belt and Dairy Belt and Corn Belt and all sorts of other belts in the US, but this is the first I've heard of the Beer Belt. Or, more appropriately, the Beer Belly.

The geniuses behind my most recent obsession, the blog FloatingSheep.org, used Google Maps to create a map of the country showing where, if you really love bars, you should live.

References to bars versus grocery stories
Beer Belly Map

This would likely not hold up to peer-reviewed scrutiny, but come on - using aggregate data to create irrelevant charts? What else could heaven possibly hold for me after this?

Anyway, anyone growing up in the upper Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin) knows that the entire state of Wisconsin is indeed covered in bars, as the map suggests. The creators of the map also checked their data against the 2007 Census Country Business Pattern on the number of establishments listed in NACIS code 722410 and found "remarkable correspondence" with their data.

The bars per 10,000 population chart below also matches well with the Beer Belly map:

Rank     State               Bars per 10,000 Population
1     North Dakota         6.54
2     Montana                6.34
3     Wisconsin              5.88
4     South Dakota        4.73
5     Iowa                     3.73
6     Nebraska              3.68
7     Wyoming              3.4

Looking at it a slightly different way, you can see the total number of references to bars in the US, which as expected parallels population density. The high scorer? Chicago, IL, with 1139!! (I may or may not be able to attest to the veracity of this. But I can't tell you as it would compromise my agents in the field - Johnny, Jim, Jose and Jack.)

Total number of bars

For more fun, check out FloatingSheep's Great American Pizza Map (pizza joints versus guns or strip clubs), the Burger Force ("a field of energy that radiates from every freshly-cooked patty, earth-penetrating and inverse-squared with distance, compelling the hungry carnivore to seek out and devour the well-done ground beef at the source"), slums, war and peace, religion and more!

Last but not least, if you want to spend the rest of your day like I think I just might, check out AggData, a site that compiles aggregate data on anything you can possibly imagine. There's a complete list of Timmy Horton's locations that I may have to purchase... These people really don't want me to get any work done, methinks.

Hat tip to the huz for thinking of me.