How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?

Many people think of beer as a less alcoholic alternative to hard liquor. This isn’t always true, however. A 12 oz. of beer takes longer for your body to process than a shot. Yet, both contain about the same amount of alcohol. Additionally, not all beers have the same ABV.

Be educated on how much alcohol your beer actually contains, so you can have fun and drink responsibly. 

How much alcohol is in a standard beer?

According to the U.S. government, a standard drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is equivalent to one 12 oz. beer that is 5% ABV. However, many light beers have around 4.2% ABV. Some beers, like IPAs, famously have more alcohol. IPAs usually contain 6-10% ABV.

Obviously, the ABV in a beer will be lower than hard liquor. A standard shot of liquor contains 40% alcohol, yet a serving is 1.5 ounces. Many people think hard liquor is more alcoholic than beer, but this isn’t true. Your body processes a beer much more slowly than a shot, so you’ll feel drunk more quickly than you do when drinking a beer. However, both a shot and a beer contain the same amount of pure alcohol.

While a standard beer contains around 5% alcohol, this isn’t true across the board. Yes, most beers contain 4-6% alcohol, but they can be as little as .5% ABV, all the way up to 40% ABV. Craft beers are growing more popular than ever, and they usually have more alcohol than standard beers. It’s important to know roughly how much alcohol is in different styles of beer so you know exactly how much you’re consuming on your next night out.

How much alcohol is in different styles of beer?

Each different style of beer has a different average ABV. The alcohol content in a given beer is extremely important to the overall flavor structure. Beers that are heavier in style or more bitter have increased alcohol content to keep them balanced. We’ve broken down the average alcohol content for some of the most popular styles of beer below.

American Lager

American lagers are one of the U.S’s signature styles. Many of America’s most popular beers are American lagers. This style is characterized by a light body, little to no bitterness, and relatively low ABVs. American lagers are usually very smooth and easy to drink. The average American lager contains around 3.2-4% ABV. 

Popular American lagers include: 

  • Pabst Blue Ribbon: PBR is an extremely popular, light, crisp, and refreshing American style lager. This beer has an ABV of 4.7%.
  • Budweiser: Budweiser, also known as the King Of Beers, is a medium-bodied American-style lager that is balanced, grainy, and round. A can or bottle of Budweiser contains 5% ABV.
  • Old Style: Old Style is light in color and body, medium in aroma, and full-flavored, with a delicate aftertaste. The ABV of Old Style is 4.64%.
  • Busch Beer: Busch beer is grainy, dry, and light. It’s made from a blend of premium hops, exceptional barley malt, fine grains, and crisp water. Busch beer has an ABV of 4.3%.

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German Pilsner

A classic, German-style pilsner is usually a pale, straw color, with a malty sweetness detected in both the flavors and the nose. The perception of bitterness is medium to high. Hop aromas and flavors are moderate. German pilsners typically have an ABV range from 4.1-5.1%.

Popular German pilsners include: 

  • Veltins German Pilsner: On the nose, this pilsner has subtle notes of malt and grassiness. Upon the first sip, you’ll notice heavy carbonation and a very balanced note of malt and hops. The ABV of this beer is 4.8%.
  • Schonramer Pilsner: This pilsner is full-flavored, pale in color, and slightly sweet on the palate. It uses Aroma Hops for an incredibly delectable bouquet. The ABV of this beer is 5.4%.

American Pale Ale

Another signature American style, American pale ales, is medium in body, with a noticeable hop flavor and a light copper color. They usually contain significant amounts of American hops. American pale ales typically have an ABV from 4.4% to 5.4%.

Popular American Pale Ales include:

  • Sierra Nevada:  This beer began as a craft brew but grew into a national favorite because of its rich, full-bodied flavor. The ABV of his beer is 5.6%.
  • Bootleggers Palomino Pale Ale: This American-style pale ale is made using the finest American barley and tons of hops, which gives it a balanced, citrusy taste. The ABV of this ale is 5.5%.

India Pale Ales

American IPAs, or India Pale Ales, have tons of hops, big herbal and citrus flavors, and very high bitterness than regular pale ales. IPAs have a reputation for being very boozy and very bitter, so most people assume they’re difficult to drink. However, many IPAs are very fruity, smooth, and delicious. The average ABV of an IPA is 6.3-7.5%.

Popular IPAs include:

Imperial or Double IPAs

  • Lagunitas: Lagunitas IPA is made from a blend of 43 different hops and 65 various malts. It offers a strong hoppy aroma., bold citrus flavors, and a dry yet sweet taste. This IPA is 6.2% ABV.
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA: This IPA delivers what is described as a pungent, citrusy, grassy hop flavor while not being overly bitter. It is hoppy, malty, and piney. The 60 Minute IPA contains 6% ABV.
  • Stone Brewing IPA: This is an American-style IPA that is golden in color and offers bold citrusy flavors and hops aromas. It offers tropical, citrusy, piney hop flavors and aromas, balanced by a beautifully subtle malt character. The ABV of this beer is 6.9%.

These beers have all the hoppy bitterness of an IPA but kicked up a notch. Plus, they contain much more alcohol than a typical IPA. They have a stronger flavor, as well as more hop bitterness. The average Double IPA contains 7-14% ABV.

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Popular Imperial IPAs include:

  • Double-Wide IPA: This American-style double IPA offers toffee and caramel notes, along with a complex blend of minty and citrusy hop flavors. The alcohol content of this IPA is 8.5% ABV.
  • Victory Brewing Dirtwolf Double IPA: This beer has an incredibly strong hops presence. They use an aggressive dry-hopping method to deliver intense aromas and flavors packed with citrusy, earthy notes. The ABV of this beer is 8.7%.
  • Hangar 24 Brewing Iconic Double IPA: This IPA is billed as iconic, and we’ll sure you agree after you taste it. It offers bitter citrus flavors, along with pine and a slightly bready maltiness. The ABV of this Imperial IPA is 9%.

Stout

Stouts are synonymous with malty flavors. They’re usually dark in color and offer flavors of chocolate and coffee without overpowering malt bitterness. Some stouts are smooth and sweet, while others are darker and more bitter. The average ABV of stout ranges from 5.7-8.9%.

Popular stouts include:

  • Guinness: This Irish stout offers roasted malt aromas, and a rich, creamy mouthfeel, without being too heavy. The hops offer a beautiful balance to the malt, allowing a slight sweetness to showcase during the finish. Guinness’s ABV is 4.2%.
  • Elysian Brewing Dragonstooth Stout: This stout is a deep, midnight black color and offers coffee and dark chocolate aromas. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth, with flavors of roasted malt, warm bread, and oatmeal. The ABV of this beer is 8.1%.

Wheat Beers

Wheat beers get their name from the fact that brewers use wheat as their malt of choice. They are generally light in both color and alcohol content. They usually have a tangy quality, which pairs well with fruit, so you’ll often see seasonal, fruit-flavored wheat beers. The average ABV of a wheat beer is around 3.5-5.6% ABV.

  • Allagash Brewing White Wheat Beer: This is a Belgian-style wheat beer that is brewed with oats, malted wheat, and raw wheat. This creates a hazy, white appearance. The wheat flavor is complemented by coriander and Curaçao orange peel. The ABV of this beer is 5.2%.
  • Shock Top Belgian White Ale: Another Belgian-style white wheat beer, Shock Top is aromatic and smooth, with a slightly complex taste. It’s an unfiltered beer, so it’s naturally cloudy. The ABV of Shock Top is 5.2%.

The takeaway

When drinking beer, it’s important to be conscious of how much alcohol you’re actually consuming. It’s incorrect to assume that all beers contain the same amount of alcohol. While most hover around 5% ABV, different styles can have much more or much less alcohol in them. By being conscious of the different amounts of alcohol in beer styles, you can drink safely and responsibly.

If you want a 6-pack of your favorite beer but don’t want to get in the car to get it, Saucey has your back.

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