We all can agree that having a nice, cold beer is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Whether you’re up for a fruity or robust and bitter flavor, beer is something we’ve always wanted if we like to chill with friends or celebrate a special moment.
But has it ever crossed your mind how much alcohol is in your favorite beer? Perhaps you’re wondering if the alcohol level even matters when you have a strong tolerance.
In this blog, we’ll dig deeper into the controversial question of how much alcohol one can find in beers. If you’re up for the ride, keep scrolling!
What is Alcohol by Volume or ABV?
But first thing first. Experts defined alcohol by volume or ABV as the percentage of pure alcohol in a particular drink.
Bartenders use ABV as a form of measurement to know how alcoholic a beverage would turn out. One may find ABV quite essential in the complex world of beers since they can already expect the alcohol strength.
On top of that, ABV has a profound connection to the beer’s taste. Usually, beers with a higher level of ABV leave a harsh pang on the tongue because of the strong alcohol content.
Most importantly, ABV plays a crucial role in avoiding drunkenness or intoxication. After all, if you’re aware of the ABV in the beer, you’ll be more mindful of your consumption.
Alcohol Content Found in a Standard Beer
Beers have a varying range of alcohol content. It’s unsurprising to spot beers with as low as 2 to 3% ABV. In rare instances, you’ll even come across beers having up to 50% ABV.
While beer’s alcohol content runs from one extreme to another, the United States Government says that a 12-ounce standard beer includes a 5% ABV. Most often than not, the alcohol levels in a beer are presented through ABV. One can see this printed in canned or beer bottles.
Categories of Beer Based on Alcohol Content
Generally speaking, there are five beer categories depending on their alcohol content. While these may not be considered strict, official, or absolute, this guideline will help you get a clearer view of beer’s alcohol levels.
0 to 1.2% ABV
1.2% to 5% ABV
5% to 8% ABV
8% to 15% ABV
15% ABV higher
This idea may sound weird, but we can still consider non-alcoholic beer as beer. The truth is most of the non-alcoholic beers we spot on the market still have a bit of alcohol. They contain around 1.2% ABV. Brewers crafted this line of beers similarly to regular beer, with only decreased content ABV.
As the name suggests, light beers have a reduced alcohol level and calories compared to standard beers in the market.
You may find it usually mild in everything from alcohol to ingredients, aroma, and flavor. Light beers have around 1.2% to 5% ABV. Examples of famous light beers are Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Coors Light.
Moving on to the medium beer category, you’ll meet more full-bodied and full-flavored beers. The reason is beers with an increased level of alcohol must burst with flavors to balance the bitterness caused by alcohol’s intensity.
Dark Lagers, IPAs, Sours, and Brown Ales are the popular medium styles you’ll find across the market. This beer category has around 5% to 8% ABV.
You’ll come across less mainstream styles, like the imperial versions in the strong beer category. Some strong beer styles include Imperial Stouts, Imperial IPAs, Wee Heavies, Imperial Stouts, and others. Strong beers possess 8% to 15% ABV.
Ultra-Strong beers contain as much as 15% ABV. While making a beer with an intensely high alcoholic content might seem impossible, it can still be done. Typically, it would be hard for the beer yeast to survive past the 15% alcohol level. Slowly, the yeast might wane, and the fermentation will stop.
To get a higher count of ABV, the brewers often use unique methods like adding distilled alcohol to traditionally brewed beers or freezing.
Alcohol Content in Different Beer Styles
Experts grouped different styles of beer based on fermentation methods and characteristics. But generally, one will find beers belonging to the same stylistic family to have almost similar alcohol levels.
To get the bigger picture, we’ve picked some of the most famous beer styles and their traditional alcohol by volume or ABV.
India Pale Ales
6.3% to 7.5%
American Pale Ales
150 to 200
4.4% to 5.5%
250 to 300
7% to 14%
3.5% to 5.6%
4.4% to 6.1%
4% to 9%
170 to 200
4.5% to 6%
4.1% to 5.3%
English Pale Ales
4.5% to 5.5%
3% to 5%
4.9% to 5.6%
India Pale Ales
Perhaps, the newest beer style is the India Pale Ales or, in short, IPAs. But surprisingly, it belongs to one of the most popular beers in the United States.
This style is in the same color shade as American Pale Ales but slightly darker with a filled concentration of aroma and hop flavor. India Pale Ales usually contain around 6.3% to 7.5% ABV.
American Pale Ales
American Pale Ales are easy to drink. You’ll find them medium-bodied, with a golden to deep amber shade and moderate to a high concentration of hop flavor. Experts claimed that this beer style perfectly represents American craft brewing.
People enjoyed this beer since they’re pretty versatile and food-friendly, making it a fantastic drinking companion for any meal. The standard American Pale Ale has 4.4% to 5.5% ABV.
Imperial or Double IPAs
One may find Imperial or Double IPAs the same as average IPAs. But this beer style exudes a more intense flavor, hop bitterness, and increased alcohol content. The ABV percentage may run from 7% to 14% ABV.
Wheat beers are usually lighter in alcohol content and color hue. They possess fruity undertones, which would work magically with fish, chicken, fruits, and salads. Wheat beer’s ABV is around 3.5% to 5.6% ABV.
Once you sip Amber Ales, you’ll discover it’s much meltier with caramel-filled flavors and roasted toffee characteristics. So, it would not be surprising to say this beer style is sweeter. It has pine and citrus notes. Amber Ales’ ABV ranges from around 4.4% to 6.1%.
Unlike the others, Stouts come in many variations and are much darker. This beer line is jet-black with burnt bread, espresso, and unsweetened chocolate flavors. Usually, these beers have an ABV of 4% to 9%.
While Porters have a fair share of characteristics with Stouts, the two are still slightly distinct. Traditional Porters possess a dark brown to almost black color shade.
It has a mild hop flavor with fruity, burnt chocolate and fruity undertones. We can safely say that Porters are relatively complex, having an ABV range of 4.5% to 6%.
Typically, Pilsners come in a pale gold hue with a spicy and floral hop bouquet. This beer line is crisp and refreshing with bitterness and complex maltiness. Its ABV is around 4.1% to 5.3%.
English Pale Ales
The ABV of English Pale Ales runs from 4.5% to 5.5%. It appears mild but much more malt-forward than the American Pale Ales. English yeast lets these beer styles have a balanced flavor with fruity notes complementing the bitterness.
Over the years, we’ve seen Sour Beers gain popularity. As its name suggests, this beer style is tart and sour. However, you can expect that the tartness level differs significantly among brands. The ABV of Sour Beers falls around 3% to 5%.
Lastly, the German beers exude intense clove and banana flavor. Hefeweizens possess a relatively low alcohol level with complex flavors. It has a perfect balance of spice and fruit, with ABVS ranging between 4.9% to 5.6%.
Alcohol Content in Famous Beer Brands
If there’s one thing we’re curious about, that is the level of alcohol of the most famous beer brands. While this list may be relative, we’ve pulled some strings and put together all the commonly searched beer brands on the web and their ABV. So, here’s a quick rundown.
Famous Beer Brands
Do you like a quick recap of how much alcohol is in beer? Watch this informative video brought to us by the Hospital Broadcast!
The Moment of Truth
Knowing and discovering the level of alcohol inside a beer might look complicated. For sure, it would take a long time too! But the learning process is worth it since familiarizing ourselves with alcohol content is the first step to being aware of the beers we’re drinking.
That can make our lives easy, right? We’ll be more mindful of our health too! So, the next time you need handy info about a beer’s ABV, you can always go back to this blog.
As a homebrewer, Michael would get frustrated about the lack of brewing information on the internet. After hundreds of gallons of spoilt batches, Micheal had enough. And he founded Unknown Brewing as a resource for homebrewers.