A GUIDE TO BEER STRENGTH
As the world’s favourite alcoholic beverage (and one of its oldest) there’s a myriad of legend surrounding beer, so we’re here to demystify ABV and what that means for the world's many beer styles.
WHAT IS BEER STRENGTH?
The strength of a beer is simply the amount of alcohol in it, liter for liter. It’s measured in ABV (alcohol by volume), so a beer described as 4% ABV contains 40ml of alcohol per liter of beer. All alcoholic drinks use the same unit of measurement, and it can dramatically affect the flavor and mouthfeel of the beer.
STYLES & STRENGTHS
Commercially available beer ranges in strength from non-alcoholic to around 7% ABV. Generally, lagers, bitters and stouts are between 4% and 5%, with IPA between 5% and 7%. Non-alcoholic beers can legally contain up to 0.5% alcohol in the USA.
IS STOUT STRONGER THAN BEER?
Stout has an average strength of around 4% ABV. However, there’s always variation within the style, such as Imperial Stouts. These beers can exceed 16% ABV, but often float around the 11% - 13% mark. In fact, the term ‘Imperial’, when placed before any beer style, will always mean it’s a stronger version of that style.
HOW STRONG IS IPA?
IPAs vary in strength and can differ in ABV depending on where in the world they are brewed. Typically, an IPA brewed in the US can reach up to 7% ABV while in the UK you’re more likely to see them lodged between 5% and 6.5% ABV. But in reality, there are no rules. So you can find IPA ranging from non-alcoholic to upwards of 11%.
DOUBLE IPA, DOUBLE THE ABV?
The 'double' of the name actually refers to the amount of hops and malt used in the brewing process, which is typically around twice that of an IPA. Double (or Imperial) IPAs therefore also promise a higher ABV of around 8% - 9.5% (due to more sugars being eaten through fermentation.)
THE STRONGEST BEER?
BrewDog famously got into a rivalry with German brewer Schorschbräu to produce the strongest traditionally made beer, and came up with “Strength in Numbers” (57.8% ABV). Check out Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck for more epic high ABV beers!