Is beer alcohol is a question that confuses both modern beer aficionados and beginners. Many beer lovers contest that beer is not alcohol since it has a lower alcohol percentage than other alcoholic drinks.
While this is true to an extent, beer is still scientifically considered an alcoholic drink as even the non-alcoholic beers you find are not completely free of alcohol.
In this complete guide, we’ll go through what makes beer an alcoholic drink and other fascinating facts about this well-loved beverage.
Is Beer a Type of Alcohol?
Yes; as a matter of fact, beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages that have ever existed. It is also one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. It is a pretty well-known fact that most countries, local communities, and regions have their own version of beers.
There is a standard joke among many beer lovers that since the average ABV of beer is lower than other drinks like whisky, vodka, gin, and even wine, beer is almost like a non-alcoholic beverage. Even though this joke is entirely preventable, it has no scientific basis. Yes, you can find some non-alcoholic beers in the market, but most beers are alcoholic.
Though there are many popular international beer brands, there are many localized versions too. It is believed that due to this popularity, beer is actually the third most popular drink in the world, coming after water and tea.
Some of the most historical evidence and writings have mentioned the production of beer as an alcoholic drink. Most beers are made by fermenting some form of grain, be it barley, wheat, rice, or oats.
When these grains ferment due to the actions of the yeast used in brewing, they form alcoholic substances in the beer wort. This is the simplest explanation for understanding if beer is alcohol. We will get into a more detailed explanation in the sections below.
– What Is a Standard Alcoholic Drink?
The standard for any alcoholic drink in the USA is 0.6 fl oz or 14 grams of pure alcohol in one serving of alcohol. Even though the alcohol beer content is low, it is not nonexistent. Because of this, beer is widely considered to be an alcoholic drink.
Some beer lovers may debate that light beers have a very low alcohol percentage and should not be labeled as alcohol, but it is not true. It has been found that even light beers have a good amount of alcohol.
It is almost 85 percent close to the alcohol content of any other standard beer. And since the general serving size of beer is higher than other alcohols like wine, gin, vodka, or whisky, it is easier to drink more of this beverage.
What Makes Beer a Type of Alcohol?
Any drink that contains ethanol is considered an alcoholic drink, and this is one of the main components of beer, making it a type of alcohol or adult beverage. This type of alcohol also acts as a drug and is made with the fermentation of grains or other sugar products.
When the sugar in these products, like barley, wheat, fruits, potatoes, and rice, is fermented, it converts into alcohol. So, no matter how low or high the ABV level of beer is, it is still an alcoholic drink. Let us find out how beer becomes an alcoholic drink through the brewing process.
– Brewing Process
A few steps are involved in the beer brewing process, which converts it from a non-alcoholic grain mixture to an alcoholic drink. This process involves milling, mashing, malting, lautering, fermenting, boiling, filtering, conditioning, and packaging.
All of these steps are equally important to complete the process and obtain the final beer. No matter what type of beer you produce, all the raw materials must go through all the above processes to become an alcoholic beer.
The malt grains can only be fermented by yeast and converted into alcohol if they have simple compounds of sugar; they need to be broken down, mashed and converted into a beer wort.
The wort brewers get from this process is a simple sugar compound that can be easily fermented and processed with yeast to make beer. This wort is then fermented at a controlled temperature to help achieve the desired ABV level.
What Are the Different Varieties of Alcoholic Beer?
Ales, IPAs, lagers, pilsners, and stouts are just some of the varieties that comprise the wonderful world of beer. The average acceptable ABV level of alcoholic beer is 4 – 20 percent. But some breweries, especially craft brewers, also make beer varieties between 0.5 – 40 percent.
Modern beer experiments have produced craft beer styles with very high alcohol percentages. So, what are the popular types of alcoholic beers that have this level of alcohol? Check out the list below to find out.
Ales usually have a higher alcohol content and can get people drunk much faster because this beer’s blood alcohol concentration rises much faster. They are made with top-fermenting yeast and are one of the most popula types of beer around the world.
These yeast varieties have a higher resistance to alcohol. Hence, the fermentation process creates a lot more alcohol in these beers. Ale beers are generally full-bodied, strong yet fruity in flavor. Most ales are also very strong in their hop game, making them higher on the bitterness level.
– India Pale Ales (IPA)
India Pale Ale or IPAs are a subcategory of ale beers. They have an even higher hop percentage than standard ales. Their alcohol percentage may not differ much from other ales, but IPAs are generally very strong drinks. They also tend to have a lot of hops and herbal, citrus, or fruity flavors.
Lager beers are mostly made with bottom-fermenting yeast varieties, which have a lower resistance to alcohol. Hence, their ABV level is relatively low. Lagers are generally light-bodied and have lower hop content than other beers.
Lagers also tend to be malty and have a lot of remaining taste from the malted grains used in the brewing process. These beers are generally very crisp, clean, and easy to drink, making them one of the first choices for new beer drinkers.
Pilsners are light beers that originated in the Czech Republic. They are light and golden in color and have diverse tastes in the craft beer industry. German pilsners are generally on the sweeter side, but Czech pilsners tend to be a little on the bitter side of the flavor profile.
Stouts are one of the most popularly found dark beers across the world. They are generally very strong in their alcohol content but can also be sweet at the same time. It is believed that some of the sweetest stout beers are brewed in Ireland and Britain.
Stouts are generally very heavy, full-bodied, and taste of roasted malty grains. These beers can also smell like caramel, nuts, dark chocolate, and coffee. Many stout beers in the US have a creamy texture, making them a very smooth drink.
Porter beers are also one of the very popular alcoholic beers in both Europe and America. They tend to be dark and strong, like stouts. This beer was first brewed and produced for the working class people to give them a cheap yet strong beer option. But now, this alcoholic beverage has many new craft brew versions worldwide.
Witbier or wheat beers use an excess amount of wheat in their brewing process. These beers have different versions in different countries.
But these beers are generally strong, and the taste and smell of bread-like flour dough can also smell of crackers. They also tend to have a sweet, sour, and fruity flavor, making them relatively easy to drink.
What Are the Best Uses of Alcoholic Beer?
Aside from being a fun drink for parties and get-togethers, alcoholic beer is also widely used in cooking, mixing with cocktails, and even as cleaning agents! Do you think beer can only be used as an alcoholic beverage? No; alcoholic beer can be used for many different purposes.
These purposes include:
- Marinating raw food for cooking
- Using beer to create a curry, broth, or sauce in culinary recipes
- Beer is also used as an alcoholic base for many cocktails
- Beer can also be used to wash people’s hair since it acts as a natural conditioning agent due to its alcohol level
– Health Benefits of Alcoholic Beer
Though there is no concrete proof behind these claims, many research and surveys have said that beer may have many health benefits. It is speculated that drinking a moderate amount of beer can help people avoid heart disease. But what this “moderate” amount is still a matter of debate.
Some researchers also say drinking a certain amount of beer in controlled quantities can help people digest better. This happens due to the carbonation and fizz present in the beer, which helps food get digested faster. But all of these health benefit claims have yet to be certified by top medical agencies. Hence, there are still some doubts about their authenticity.
On the other hand, the alcohol in beer may be low, but they have a lot of negative health outcomes nonetheless. If you indulge in binge drinking beer or any other alcohol for that matter, it will negatively impact your body and health. In any case, alcohol abuse can have long-term impacts on your body.
Do Some Beers Not Have Alcohol?
No, it would be wrong to say that non-alcoholic beers do not contain any alcohol. Non-alcoholic beers generally contain less than 0.05 percent alcohol, which is almost negligible. This is because, during the brewing process, some alcohol formation is inevitable.
If you are not a big fan of alcohol or you are trying to cut back, then there are some non-alcoholic beers out there that you can try. Brewers have two ways of producing non-alcoholic beers. They can either remove the alcohol content after the brewing process or apply methods not to allow alcohol to form from the beginning.
– Do All Beers Have Alcohol?
Yes, even in non-alcoholic beers, there is a negligible amount of alcohol. During the fermentation process, the sugar in the grain mash is eaten up by the yeast, leading to the alcohol formation in beer.
– Can Beer Make You Drunk?
If you indulge in binge drinking beer, even if it is a light beer, then yes it can make you drunk. The trick is to drink alcohol slower and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
– Is Beer Healthy?
Some research and surveys say drinking beer can be healthy and have different benefits for the body, but one needs to drink it carefully and at a controlled amount to not cause any hazards.
In this article, we looked at many different reasons why beer is an alcohol and whether any non-alcoholic beer options are available. Remember these key points about alcohol in beer before you drink your next bottle.
- Beer’s alcohol is produced as a result of the yeast eating up the sugar in the grain mash during fermentation.
- There are many types of alcoholic beers including ales, lagers, IPAs, stouts, porters, witbiers, and many more.
- Some research says beer has many health benefits, but that is still a matter of debate among beer lovers and medical professionals.
As the world of beer keeps developing and improving, may these new insights into your favorite drink give you a better understanding of this special beverage.