What Has More Alcohol: Beer or Vodka?
May 11, 2021
Both beer and vodka are alcoholic beverages you can obtain legally. Each one is composed of different ingredients, though, and each has different alcohol levels.
In moderation, beer and vodka may not harm you. You may feel tipsy after a few shots, but this is normal when drinking alcohol. While your senses would be affected, drinking one or two drinks is typically okay.
But when you take these beverages excessively, you could suffer from alcohol use disorder. In other words, they can be addictive. But since they have different concentrations of alcohol, it takes different amounts of beer and vodka to get addicted.
What is beer made of?
The main raw material in beer is malt. It is a kind of grain, which contains starch. The starch in malt is fermented with yeast, which produces the alcohol in beer.
Various beers contain between 4% and 7% alcohol by volume, with the average being 5%. This is a lot less than typical liquors.
What is vodka made of?
Vodka uses different raw materials for its production. Basically, it can be made from anything that can be fermented to make alcohol. Typical ingredients include wheat, corn, rye, barley, potato, and grape.
After fermentation, the resulting liquid is distilled to increase the alcohol concentration. After distillation, raw vodka has about 96% alcohol, which makes it totally unsafe to drink. To make it milder, it is diluted until the final product reaches anywhere between 35% to 46% alcohol.
Most preparations of vodka have 40% alcohol by volume. This is eight times greater than the alcohol concentration in beer.
How much beer or vodka is in one “drink”?
The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines define one drink as an amount containing about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. In terms of beer and vodka, that would be:
- 12 ounces (1 bottle) of beer at 5% alcohol by volume
- 1.5 ounces (1 shot) of vodka at 40% alcohol by volume
Why do I get drunk when drinking beer or vodka?
Alcohol is what’s known as a central nervous system depressant. In other words, it slows down the transmission of signals in nerve cells, including those of the brain. With less activity in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, you will feel groggy and fatigued. Your senses would also be less alert, and your better judgment would be impaired.
How many drinks of beer or vodka can I have before getting drunk?
This depends on how fast your body can process alcohol. The pace of this process is influenced by your age, sex, weight, and your metabolic profile, among other factors. All of these contribute to your alcohol tolerance. Different people have different levels of tolerance. The higher this is, the more drinks they can have before intoxication sets in.
How much food you’ve eaten before drinking is also a huge factor. If you drink on an empty stomach, alcohol will be absorbed into your bloodstream much faster. In turn, you will be drunk with just a few drinks.
How fast you down your drinks also influences how soon you get drunk. Gulping down a bottle of beer, for instance, will make you feel intoxicated more quickly than if you take a few sips at a time. Similarly, taking several consecutive shots of vodka will make you drunk in a heartbeat. But if you have, say, only one shot per hour, you won’t get intoxicated too soon.
Since beer has a significantly lower alcohol level than vodka, you can have more beer before getting drunk. With vodka, it takes only a few shots to get drunk.
Alcohol is fast acting, as the body absorbs it rather quickly. Once the substance is in your bloodstream, it will get to your other organs as well. Within 15 to 45 minutes after your first drink, you will begin to feel the effects of alcohol.
How would I know if I’m already drunk?
In technical terms, intoxication is measured through your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This can be measured through breath, blood, and urine tests.
If you have very little tolerance for alcohol, you will start feeling intoxicated when your BAC reaches 0.05. Starting at 0.07, your driving skills will be affected. In other words, it wouldn’t be safe to drive at this stage.
Once your BAC reaches 0.20, you may start losing consciousness. At 0.30, you can pass out. BACs of 0.40 and higher are fatal.
What are the signs of intoxication?
When you can’t do a breathalyzer test or anything to determine your BAC, there are symptoms you can watch out for. These include:
- Getting excited easily
- Lowered inhibitions
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated movements
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Breathing problems
- Loss of consciousness
- Impaired muscle movement
How would I know if I’m addicted to beer or vodka?
Addiction usually begins with increasing tolerance to alcohol. That means you are able to drink more before feeling any signs of intoxication. As tolerance builds, you become more and more dependent on alcohol, and soon enough, you will become addicted to it.
In terms of BAC, this is a sign of alcohol dependence: You have a BAC between 0.10 and 0.20 but don’t show any clear signs of intoxication. This often happens if you drink heavily and regularly.
How can I avoid being addicted to beer or vodka?
Always keep in mind to drink moderately. Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having more than two drinks per day is already heavy drinking.
So, you should only drink, at most, one bottle of beer or one shot of vodka each day. Whenever possible, do not drink every day. Limit it to once a week or less.
Also, know your limits. When you begin to feel any sign of intoxication, stop drinking immediately. Take note of how many bottles of beer or shots of vodka you’ve taken. On your next drinking session, do not go over that number.