How Long Does Beer Stay in Your System?

You cannot tell how long a beer stays in your system, for alcohol metabolism is different for everyone. However, we cannot refrain from asking how long one beer stays in our system.

When alcohol is in our body, the liver predominantly breaks it down to remove it out of our body. Liver can roughly metabolize 1 standard drink an hour. However, this is not true for all, as different factors can affect how fast your body can process alcohol.

Besides our body composition, the alcohol content and the number of drinks you have consumed matters. Hence, it is important to check the ABV of the beer first to know how much of the beer you should drink.

What is ABV?

What is ABV

Alcohol by Volume (ABV) shows the alcohol percentage present in the beer. Alcohol content affects the beer’s taste; the higher the ABV, the more bitter the beer becomes. Brewers use ABV to balance the bitterness and sweetness of the beer.

Let’s say a standard drink is 5% ABV in 12 ounces. If you are drinking a beer with 10% ABV, then you should only have 6 ounces.

Besides the ABV, some check the IBU of their beers to know how bitter they are.

What is IBU?

The International Bitterness Unit (IBU) measures the bitter flavor compounds found in a beer. The IBU scale starts at 0 and has no limitations. Most beers have between 5 IBU and 120 IBU. An average palate cannot detect any beer with an IBU higher than 120 IBU.

So, if you do not want your beer to be too bitter, then check its IBU level on its label.

If you are a beer enthusiast, understanding the types of beer and its unique flavors is a must. You have to know which to recommend for people who have a low alcohol tolerance or to those who wants to enjoy beer but does not suffer from the consequences of intoxication.

Common Types of Beer

There are hundreds of beer styles and types, and the two characteristics (ABV and IBU) describes each style. Below, we have identified the common types and their corresponding ABV and IBU.

Beer Type/Style ABV IBU
American Lager 3.2 to 4% ABV 5 to 15
American Brown Ale 4.2 to 6.3% ABV 25 to 45
English Bitter 3.4 to 4.2% 20 to 35
American Imperial Porter 7.0 to 12% ABV 35 to 50
English Brown Porter 4.5 to 6% ABV 35 to 50
Robust Poster 5.1 to 6.6% ABV 25 to 40
American Stout 5.7 to 8.9% ABV 35 to 60
American Imperial Stout 7.0 to 12% ABV 50 to 80
Irish Dry Stout 3.8 to 5% ABV 30 to 40

Most beer types are lager or ales because they can become a specialty beer just by adding ingredients to enhance its flavor. Meanwhile, porter and stout beers have the same mid to high alcohol levels, the only difference between them is stouts have a stronger roasted flavor while porters have a chocolate and caramel reminiscent.

Whichever beer type suits your taste, there is a standard amount to drink, so you do not become intoxicated.

Standard Amount to Drink of Beers

Every liquor has a different amount of alcohol content. Standard drinks contain 0.6 ounces of alcohol. A glass of 12 ounces of regular beer contains 5% alcohol. Meanwhile, only 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of gin has the same alcohol content as 12 ounces of regular beer.

How Fast Does Alcohol Kicks?

How Fast Does Alcohol Kicks

Some are surprised by how fast alcohol takes effect. Generally, a person can feel the effects of alcohol in 15 to 30 minutes. It depends on the type of drink and its ABV levels. If you drink more than one standard drink every 30 minutes, you are drinking too fast and too much, resulting in over-intoxication.

Over-intoxication is the result of slow alcohol metabolism.

Alcohol Metabolism

Our liver is responsible for alcohol metabolism, but it is not the only organ alcohol passes through. The first stop of the beer or liquor is in the stomach.

Not all of us have enough stomach enzymes that metabolize alcohol, which diverts them to the bloodstream. If you do not have enough stomach enzymes, the alcohol continues to the small intestine and is absorbed in the bloodstream.

When the alcohol is in the bloodstream, it goes to the liver and brain. The liver metabolizes and starts cleaning up the alcohol in the bloodstream. Excess alcohol may come out through the kidneys, skin, or lungs. But, if you have drunk too much, your liver cannot catch up, and the excess alcohol goes to the brain.

Factors that Affect Alcohol Metabolism

Factors that Affect Alcohol Metabolism

There is no certain period for how long alcohol is removed from the body, and alcohol metabolism may be affected by some factors, including

  • Medication
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body size
  • Underlying health conditions

Length of Alcohol Stays in System

It depends on the amount of alcohol you consumed, your body composition, habits, and the test used to detect the alcohol. Alcohol can stay between 6 hours and 72 hours, depending on which body part you will use to detect and measure the alcohol level.

Tests to Detect Alcohol in Body

Tests to Detect Alcohol in Body

There are several tests to determine the level of alcohol in your system. Still, these tests can only detect alcohol for a short period after alcohol consumption.

  • Blood tests: Up to 12 hours
  • Breathalyzer test: 12 hours to 24 hours
  • Saliva test: 12 hours to 24 hours
  • Urine Test: 12 hours to 24 hours

Since the rate of alcohol metabolism differs from one person to another, most clinicians rely on alcohol use or breathalyzer to confirm recent drinking or intoxication.

How Long Does It Take to Sober Up?

Just like the symptoms we feel when drunk, how long the alcohol leaves our body appears differently from one person to another. A person’s eating habits, frequency of drinking water, body type, and gender may affect the rate of how long it takes to sober up. If you are an excessive drinker, it may take longer than those who don’t.

However, feeling better or sobering up does not mean the alcohol is out of your system. The best way to measure how intoxicated or drunk you are is through the blood alcohol concentration scale.

Ways to Help Sober Up

Ways to Help Sober Up

If you have consumed too much beer, you need time to sober up. Although there are no special ways to sober up quickly, there are some ways to help you alleviate the discomfort you are feeling from the hangover.

  • Drink a cup of coffee to help you feel alert.
  • Take a cold shower to make you alert and feel fresh.
  • Rehydrate to help your body cope with dehydration and flush the toxins from the body.
  • Sleep helps you sober up. It allows your body to rest and recover without making you feel the uneasiness of the hangover.
  • Mild exercise helps you wake up your body and become more alert.

These do not lower the BAC levels or help break down the alcohol in the body. But these make you feel more alert and comfortable dealing with the headache, thirst, and fatigue you feel the next morning.

How to Drink Without Getting Drunk

The only way not to get drunk is not to drink alcohol or keep your intake to a minimum level. But if you cannot help yourself but drink, here are some ways to avoid consuming too much and feeling intoxicated:

  • Set a limit. Each of us has a different tolerance limit, decide how many drinks you can tolerate. You have to decide and stick to the number of how many drinks you plan to have.
  • Count drinks to help track the number of drinks you have consumed. This can help you slow down.
  • Consume slowly. The body can only process a few amounts of alcohol in an hour. Take slow sips to avoid drinking more in a short period.
  • Always rehydrate while drinking. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect.
  • It is always advised to eat high-protein foods before drinking and eating snacks when drinking helps slow down the process of alcohol. Each beer type has suitable food pairings to take and improve your drinking experience.
  • Do not mix drinks. It increases the BAC levels and makes you feel more intoxicated quickly than when you only drink one kind.

Indeed, the only way not to get drunk is to drink in moderation. You should not have more than one drink a day for females and two for males. Do not binge-drink and consume alcohol on an empty stomach.

Final Takeaway

How long one beer stays in your system differs from the type of beer you consume, your body composition, and your drinking habits.

Feeling better after a hangover does not immediately mean the alcohol is out of your body. Knowing about alcohol metabolism helps you prevent over-intoxication and alcohol dependence. If you need help with your drinking habits, talk to your doctor.

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