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Beer strength


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What is the usual strength of beer in the US. I was always under the impression that it was quite weak.

Here in the UK we don't quite go as far as the Belgians and stick to about 5% (or 4% for a bitter). Are you guys the same? I know it is quite a vague question but..

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Depends on the beer (Duh...). Some of the watery "Lite" beers average 3 or 4 percent, wheras some of the heartier Ales and Stouts can lean towards 6 percent. Of course there are a whole range of imports to consider as well as the domestics.

I would have to say that the average "Joe Sixpack" beer is around 5%.

=Mark

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Another possible confusion is that England (and Europe) use alcohol by weight, whereas the US uses alcohol by volume as a measure. (or I might have that backwards..)

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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Another possible confusion is that England (and Europe) use alcohol by weight, whereas the US uses alcohol by volume as a measure. (or I might have that backwards..)

You do have it the wrong way round. But even taking this into account American bottled beers are, as a rule, stronger than British bottled beers and quite a bit stronger than british draft beers.

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What is the usual strength of beer in the US. I was always under the impression that it was quite weak.

I think this idea comes from the fact that the standard American yellow-stuff-in-a-can is fairly weak, but American beer is becoming a much more varied thing as more and more smaller breweries get into the act. Our ever increasing range of microbrews can be quite heady. The strength varies greatly from beer to beer, of course, but, at least in my neck of the woods, stronger beers are becoming nothing out of the ordinary. I think my idea of a session beer has finally crept into the 7-8% range, now that I can find Victory's Hop Devil in my local grocery stores, and my beer-drinking friends seem to be keeping pace with me as I stagger toward ever greater heights.

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Good list, but what does 100 ml mean in civilization? Is that close to 12 oz?

From the looks of the number, I'd say it's about 4oz. (Bud is 135 cal for 12 oz; Bud light is about 100.)

Edited by Stone (log)
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My entirely unresearched, instinctive belief has been that a number of the very popular American draft beers, such as Bud, Miller's and Coors, are either slightly weaker or at least not significantly stronger than popular draft British lagers, but that there are many readily available draft American beers which are indeed stronger than those - Sierra Nevada IPA, Sam Adams, etc. Now that may be nonsense, but I'm not sure what we mean by "usual" strength. It would be helpful to have a graph plotted showing comparative strengths of a dozen of so popular US and UK choices, as I expect there's an overlapping range of strengths.

Could someone get on that please?

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My guess is that the difference in alcohol in most beers is negligible. Many rookies think strong tasting beers (i.e., stout) must have more alcohol, and weaker tasting beer (American Pale Ales) have less.

In fact, my understanding is that the more mouthfeel a beer has, the less starch was converted during mashing, the less sugar fermented, and, therefore, thicker beers have a lower alcohol content. On the other hand, since alcohol is thinner than water (I think that's true), higher alcohol content makes for a thinner beer.

Most flavor in beer has nothing to do with alcohol content (until you get to double bocks and barley wines with a significant content), but comes from roasted malts and other additives.

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Sounds right to me. I have been drinking various Sierra Nevada beers on draft over the last few months. Their web-site seems to list only their bottled ales - presumably for the mail-order market - but I can assure everyone that the Celebration Ale (6.8 in the bottle) kicks like a mule from the tap. And the IPA (5.6 in the bottle) will give you a buzz.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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  • 3 months later...

There's a tendency towards stronger beers in the USA these days. I had an Imperial Pale Ale over the weekend and was suprised to see it was 9.5 ABV. English style, much heavier alcohol.

There are also some strains of yeast being produced that can tolarate much higher alcohol levels before they give up and die. With these yeasts Sam Adams and Dogfish Head have produced beers of over 20% ABV. I think Dogfish has the record with a stout weighing in at 23% ABV and a pale ale at 21% ABV.

I personally think it has gone too far and would like to see a return to producing decent ales that you can drink a few of without waking up in a dumpster. Nothing wrong with a few Belgian Strong ales now and then. Their style suits the stronger end of the spectrum and they use strange yeast combinations and age their beers to good effect. These new mega strong brews don't really add much other than alcohol.

If I wanted that I'd probably go for a Sierra Nevada Bierschnaps

http://www.essentialspirits.com/products.a...sp?proid=sierra

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I received a press release overnight introducing this product:

"Just in time for Father's Day, brewmaster Jim Koch, brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager® and founder of The Boston Beer Company, is introducing a unique, limited edition "extreme" brew, Samuel Adams Utopias. Holding the official record as "The Strongest Beer in the World," this is indeed no ordinary brew and no ordinary Father's Day gift."

25% alcohol by volume, people!

$100 per bottle!

http://www.samadams.com/home.html

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Depends on the beer (Duh...).  Some of the watery "Lite" beers average 3 or 4 percent, wheras some of the heartier Ales and Stouts can lean towards 6 percent.  Of course there are a whole range of imports to consider as well as the domestics.

I would have to say that the average "Joe Sixpack" beer is around 5%.

Alcohol by volume (ABV) is not what you might expect in many beers. For example, Coor Light rings in at 4.8% ABV, while Guinness Stout comes in at 4.3%. Most people think Guinness is the stronger beer, but only in flavor, not alcoholic strength. Most Irish stouts that we see bottled in the US (Murphy's, Beamish) are similar to Guinness in ABV, and meant to be "session" beers, meant to be quaffed.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I received a press release overnight introducing this product:

"Just in time for Father's Day, brewmaster Jim Koch, brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager® and founder of The Boston Beer Company, is introducing a unique, limited edition "extreme" brew, Samuel Adams Utopias™. Holding the official record as "The Strongest Beer in the World," this is indeed no ordinary brew and no ordinary Father's Day gift."

25% alcohol by volume, people!

$100 per bottle!

http://www.samadams.com/home.html

I thought beers to qualify must stay with cetain alcohol content parameters. Does anyone know more about it?

Checked out the Sam Adams 25% brew on their site. Is it really a beer? from the picture it looked more like a spirit, it was poured like a fine brandy. Also there seemed to be no bubbles and no frothy head.

Totally confused!

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I received a press release overnight introducing this product:

"Just in time for Father's Day, brewmaster Jim Koch, brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager® and founder of The Boston Beer Company, is introducing a unique, limited edition "extreme" brew, Samuel Adams Utopias™. Holding the official record as "The Strongest Beer in the World," this is indeed no ordinary brew and no ordinary Father's Day gift."

25% alcohol by volume, people!

$100 per bottle!

http://www.samadams.com/home.html

I thought beers to qualify must stay with cetain alcohol content parameters. Does anyone know more about it?

Checked out the Sam Adams 25% brew on their site. Is it really a beer? from the picture it looked more like a spirit, it was poured like a fine brandy. Also there seemed to be no bubbles and no frothy head.

Totally confused!

Sam Adams Utopias has been out for some time now, introduced about 14 mos. ago. Drinks , tastes , feels like a spirit, though it is indeed brewed and aged. It follows their Triplebock, a tiny expensive brew, that, at the time , was the highest alcohol beer. Neither of these will ever be confused with a beer.

On the upside, Dogfish Head Brewing of Rehoboth , DE, an idiosyncratic brewery if ever there was one, brews World Wide Stout, coming in slightly under the alcohol content of the Utopias, but it still drinks and feels very much like the beer that it is, and is sinfully, deceptively smooth, silken and delicious.

And no, ther are no real, established ABV levels set for beer per se, it's just left to the creativity and silliness of the respective brewers to push ABV envelopes when they think it gets them the desired attention they crave.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Random Factoids:

Fourteen out of the fifteen strongest beers in the world are from the United States.

Pilsners, in general, are between 4% and 5% ABV.

Lagers, in general, are also between 4% and 5% ABV.

Belgian Tripels, in general, are between 7% and 10% ABV.

Imperial Stouts, in general, are between 8% and 10% ABV.

Stouts, in general, are between 4% and 7% ABV.

Porters, in general, are between 4% and 6% ABV.

Belgian Dubbels are, in general, between 6% and 8% ABV.

US Mass Market Beers:

Amstel Light is 3.5% ABV.

Budweiser is 4.9% ABV.

Coors is 5.0% ABV.

Hamm's is 2.49% ABV.

Miller Light is 2.02% ABV.

US Craft Beers:

Victory Golden Monkey is 9.5% ABV.

Alesmith Speedway Stout is 12% ABV.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is 8.5% ABV.

Sierra Nevada Porter is 5.6% ABV.

Allagash Double Reserve is 7% ABV.

Various Foreign Beers:

Harp is 5.0% ABV.

Lowenbrau is 3.24% ABV.

Chimay Cinq Cents is 8.0% ABV.

Maredsous 10 is 10% ABV.

Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout is 5.0% ABV.

Guiness is 4.1% ABV.

fanatic...

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25beer.jpg

Just in time for Father's Day, The Boston Beer Company is introducing the ultimate gift for Dad, Samuel Adams Utopias. Holding the official record as "The Strongest Beer in the World" with 25% alcohol by volume, Utopias is available in a limited-edition collectible brew kettle. (PRNewsFoto)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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hmmmm, haven't had the pleasure.  care to elaborate on these?

They're both Belgian style Ales.

The Chimay is perhaps my second favorite Tripel (after only the Westmalle). It is an absolute classic and well worth seeking out.

The Golden Monkey is a US made Belgian style Tripel. It's a good deal (quite a bit cheaper than the true Belgians) but IMHO has some weaknesses in terms of execution against the style. A good beer, but not on par with the true Belgians or the top American Belgian style ales (Allagash and Ommegang for example).

fanatic...

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