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How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,
how much alcohol is in beer?
Signed: How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?

Dear How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?,


What you are asking about is the ABV (alcohol by volume) of beer. ABV is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in an alcoholic beverage. Simply stated, the ABV represents what portion of total volume of liquid is alcohol. Another way of specifying the amount of alcohol is by the alcoholic proof. An alcohol proof is roughly twice the alcohol by volume. For example, if a beverage is listed on the bottle to be 40 proof, that means it is 20% alcohol.


The ABV level in beer generally runs from 3-12%, and most often runs between 4% and 6%. The following are ABV levels for other types of beverages:


  • Fruit juice (naturally occurring): 0.1-0.3%
  • Cider: 4-8%
  • Barley wine: 10-15%
  • Wine: 10-15%
  • Port wine: 20%
  • Liqueurs: 15-55%
  • Hard liquor: 20-95% (Vodka: usually around 40%, but can be as high as 60%; run: 37.5-75.5%; whiskey: usually around 40%, but can be as high as 55%)
  • Absinthe: 55-89.5%
  • Neutral grain spirit: 95%
  • Rectified spirit: 96%

Keep in mind that a glass of white or red wine, a bottle of beer, and a shot of whiskey or other distilled spirits all contain equivalent amounts of alcohol and are they same to a breathalyzer. A standard drink is:

  • A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine
  • A one and 1/2 ounce of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink)

To learn more about alcohol, please read the answer to What Happens to Alcohol After It Is Consumed? under the Alcohol category of the Alcohol, Cigarettes and Drugs section of the website. If you have any further questions about alcohol, or are concerned you have a drinking problem, speak to your parents, school counselor, or doctor as soon as possible. You can also contact the National Institute on Drug Abuse & Alcoholism at 1-888-644-6432.

Signed: TeenHealthFX