Different Types of Alcohol: Styles and Strength

By James Madeiros


One of the most alluring things about alcohol is its variety. It seems that brewers, distillers and vintners will never run out of ideas, and so we will never run out of choices.

So, what are the main types of alcohol and which one packs the biggest punch?

To start, we can put alcohol into three general categories: beers, wines and liquors. It’s true there are some blends (malt liquor, anyone?) and some specialty items (e.g., liqueurs), but the Big Three will allow us to cover most of the shelves in the store.


Beer can range all the way from non-alcoholic up to having as much as the radically strong End of History. Crafted by Scottish brewer BrewDog and served up in a dead squirrel, the beer measures an eye-watering 55% alcohol by volume (ABV).

More modest brands like Budweiser, Coors and Miller offer beers with between 4% and 5% alcohol content.


Wines of all kinds (reds, whites, pinots, ports, etc.) fall within a range of 10% to 20% alcohol content. Ports, syrahs and zinfandels are usually on the high end, while non-zinfandel white wines tend toward the lower end of the scale.


Liquor is measured in “proof” with the proof number reflecting double the percentage of alcohol. For example, vodka that is 80 proof is 40% ABV. Liquors come in several varieties and strengths. Listed below are just a few:

• Vodka – 40-192 proof (Spyritus, only recently legalized, is 192 proof.)
• Whiskey – 80-100 proof
• Tequila – 70-100 proof
• Rum – 80-180 proof
• Gin – 80-100 proof

With the exception of whiskey (and bourbon), which have crafting standards that demand a certain proof, these ranges are somewhat flexible.

What Does It All Mean?

The most common equation used to compare ABV in these alcohol types is this: 12 ounces of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol.

Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re drinking the End of History, but if you are none of these numbers will matter because after one glass you probably won’t know or care what they mean


Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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