How Many Beers Equal A Shot? How It All Adds Up
Different cultures have different words for what state of being you enter when you drink: blasted, buzzed, trashed, pissed, buggered, stinko, blotto, hammered, etc.... and they all mean something a little different. My favorite of all of them is a term in Spanish. In Spain, you drink to achieve “La Chispa”, which translates to “The Spark”. It’s a state of low-level inebriation that loosens your shoulders, brightens your eyes, and makes conversation flow more easily. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s “Wasted”, a high-level of inebriation that makes you think it’s a good idea to see who can eat three Crunchwrap Supremes from Taco Bell the fastest.
So… how do you know how much you should drink? The best way to start is figuring out how much alcohol is in every drink and how to measure one drink versus another. For instance, how many shots are in a beer? How many beers equal one glass of wine? That’s what we’re going to find out here.
Shot Vs. Beer Volume
Let’s start by comparing sizes.
Beers come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. For example, in terms of package products you can order a large format bottle (750ml), a bomber (22oz), or a bottle or can of beer (both 12 oz). And in terms of serving sizes, the most popular formats are a pint (16 oz), a tulip (11-14 oz), or a snifter (8-10 oz). There are way, way, more glasses than that, such as a pilsner glass, weizen glass, kölsch stange, lambic glass, etc… but we’ll stick to standards here.
A standard American alcohol shot has 1.5 oz (44ml) of volume. The volume of shots can vary between countries (or between bartenders). It may be twice as large in some cases (like at the dive bar down the street from me which pours with a heavy hand), and in others, it might be much lower than in the US (like bars in cheap all-inclusive resorts that short on liquor).
Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is found in all alcoholic beverages. However, the amount varies significantly from beer to liquors (vodka, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc…).
Here’s where it gets important:
American Dietary Guidelines state that “one alcoholic beverage” contains 0.6 oz (17.7ml) of pure alcohol.
Domestic beer generally has between 4.2 to 10% ABV (alcohol by volume) but craft beer is known to go up to 19% alcohol in some extreme cases.
Vodka that is marked as 80 proof has 40% ABV.
This means that 12 oz (354ml) of 5% beer contains 0.6 oz (17.7ml) pure alcohol. The vodka shot at 1.5 oz (44ml) has 0.6 oz (17.4ml) of alcohol.
When you compare alcohol content, this fairly simple math shows that one regular beer is equal to one shot. The system was created this way so you can easily judge and maintain your own alcohol intake.
The system holds true for a glass of wine, which, by standards is a 5 ounce pour of wine, at about 12% alcohol (they’re the same numbers for beer, just flipped), so the ethanol content is still 0.6 oz of ethanol.
Craft beers can have ABV as high as 19% (See Black Tuesday from The Bruery or Utopias from Sam Adams, which clocks in at a whopping 28%) while light lagers stay around 4.2%. The world's most potent vodka called Spirytus Vodka from Poland contains 96% ABV. It has 1.42 oz (42ml) of ethanol per serving. This makes it the equivalent of two and a half regular beers!
Shot vs Beer Calorie Content
What about the calories of liquor vs beer? Well, a “regular” beer contains about 149 calories on average and a light beer has 115 calories on average. Broadly speaking, the more flavor the beer has, the more calories it has. And the more alcohol a beer has, the more calories it has.
Surprisingly enough, Guinness is one of the lightest beers you can find, in terms of calories. It’s only 125 calories for a 12 oz serving. That’s shockingly close to the amount of calories in a Bud Light. And Guinness only has 4.2% alcohol, which is the exact same as Bud Light.
Depending on the type of alcohol, an average shot of 40% ABV liquor has 97 calories. The higher the ABV, the more calories it has.
Different Shot Drinks
A shot glass is just a palette for the right bartender to paint a picture in booze. An entire cocktail can fit into a tiny 1.5 oz glass. These are the most well-known shot cocktails:
- The Sangrita Shot
- Jelly Bean
- Slippery Nipple
- Cement Mixer
Cement Mixer may be the most... interesting. The taste is actually pretty good, but the experience can definitely be an unsettling one. Here’s the recipe - the Cement Mixer shot is a mixture of Irish cream liqueur and lime juice. Sounds not bad, right? Well, the mixture of cream and lime juice causes the beverage to curdle… in your mouth. So while it goes in nice and smooth, it immediately gets chunky, thicc and curdled as soon as you shoot it. Total 21st birthday ritual.
Speaking of rituals, you can also drink certain types of shots with specific rituals. For example, salt and lime are two common ingredients with tequila. Lick the salt, shoot the tequila, then bite into the lime. Or, more interesting, sniff the salt, squeeze the lime in a friend’s beer, then throw the shot of tequila in the fireplace. A Pickleback is a fascinating concept to me. This is a shot of whiskey, followed by a shot of pickle juice. It’s a Midwestern thing.
The time taken to drink a beer versus doing a shot is the main difference of why you may get drunker faster while drinking liquor. While they share the same alcohol content, you can consume a shot quicker than a beer, well, at least I can. I’ve seen guys who can shotgun a beer just as fast as I can do a shot of whiskey.
Many young people believe beer has less alcohol than other drinks. As a result, they don't track how many they have drunk. This can lead to dangerous behavior such as drunk driving, resulting in severe injuries.
An average human can absorb 0.016 BAC per hour. This is about one drink an hour. One beer is equal to one shot. Therefore, you will be within the legal BAC limits if you have one drink an hour.
According to the American Addiction Center, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a “short time”.
Take A Shot With A Beer
If you aren't sure whether you want to drink beer or do a shot, I’m here to tell you that you have the option of taking both at the same time. A bomb shot or a beer drink called the boilermaker can be made.
There are two options:
You can either drink a shot of whiskey mixed with a beer or drink them separately. You can drink beer as a chaser just after you have taken a shot.
However, be aware that in the UK, the boilermaker refers to a layered mixture of a half pint of mild ale and half a pint of brown ale.
You can make a bomb shot by dropping a shot in a glass of beer.
Flaming Dr. Pepper is one of the most loved recipes. Put amaretto into a shot glass. Add some rum to it and light it on fire. Drop the flaming shot immediately in a beer container. This cocktail is not for the faint of heart. If you're new to cocktail preparation, it is best to order it from a professional bartender. You can also try these other popular recipes:
Depth Charge: This is vodka in a pint of beer.
Irish Car Bomb (are we still okay with that phrase?): It's a mixture of Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and a half-pint of Guinness.
Sake Bomb: On top of a ¾ full glass of beer, put two chopsticks in a parallel fashion just wide enough apart to rest a shot glass. Fill a shot glass with saké. Rest the full shot glass on top of the chopsticks above the beer. Now, when you’re ready to drink, you slam on the table with your fists, causing the shot glass to drop into the cold beer. Look alive, there may be a splash. Then you drink the whole thing down quickly. Sake BOMB!
How Many Beers Equals A Shot FAQ
How many shots are equivalent to one beer?
The general rule is that one 12-ounce (354-ml) beer with 5% ABV equals one shot of 40% ABV liquor.
Is it possible to get drunk off just one beer?
Absolutely. Each standard-sized beer 0.6 ounces of alcohol. Around one ounce of alcohol is processed per hour by the liver. Drinking more than one beer in an hour can lead to you becoming drunk.
Or if your one beer has 13% alcohol and you pour yourself 16 ounces of it, you’re staring down the barrel of 2 ounces of alcohol. Pour yourself just one of those and you may be drunk if you drink it too quickly.
Is one shot equal to one beer?
A 12-ounce beer contains as much alcohol as a standard 1.5 oz shot or 5 oz of typical red or white wine.
How many beers are in 60 shots of beer… AKA, Power Hour?
One shot is 1.5 oz, so 60 shots x 1.5 oz = 90 oz.
Each beer is 12 oz, so 90 oz divided into 12 oz = 7.5 beers.
How many beers are there in a shot of whiskey?
A 12 oz beer contains as much alcohol as a 1.5 oz shot of whiskey or a five oz glass of red or white wine.
Is it bad to take three shots every day?
It is not healthy to consume more than 3 to 4 oz of alcohol per day, per the recommendation of most Doctors everywhere. However, Irish doctors may prescribe 3-4 shots of Irish Whiskey before breakfast.
How much alcohol is necessary to get drunk?
The number of beers required to get drunk will depend on the drink's characteristics as well as your weight and body type. Drinks are different, and some drinks can be stronger than others. Even a couple of craft beers could lead to intoxication.
How much alcohol do you need to drink to feel buzzed?
It depends on your body weight, tolerance, sugar content in your blood, and even on your headspace. The science of “being drunk” is understood very little. However, any more than 1 drink per hour will be described as “being drunk” per the guidelines the US puts out.
How many shots are equal to one beer?
According to science one 12 oz (354 ml) beer with 5% ABV equals one shot of 40% ABV alcohol because they contain the same amount of ethanol.
How many beers does it take to get drunk?
That’s a personal question. That’s like asking how many socks do you need to own? I’d say at least two, some may say more (would anyone say less? Maybe the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). The generally accepted rule is that “one drink per hour” allows you to stay under the legal limit.
Can I get drunk off one beer?
Do you remember your first beer? I certainly don’t. But yes, you can certainly feel buzzed or even drunk off of one beer. Certainly not to an unhealthy degree and you probably won’t rise above the American legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content, but if the beer has a high enough ABV and you drink it fast enough with a limited amount of other sugars in your system, yes you could get legally drunk.
So, how many beers equal a shot? The best rule of thumb is that one 12 oz (354ml) beer containing 5% ABV equals one shot of average hard liquor at 40% ABV. But just watch what beer you’re drinking, because a Hazy IPA from Stone Brewing, for example, can easily hit 10% ABV, so you’re looking at two shots right there. Or if you find yourself drinking a full pint of Black Tuesday 19.2% ABV from the Bruery (heaven forbid), you’re looking at nearly 4 shots of alcohol.
Ultimately, please be responsible, drink responsibly, enjoy yourself, and be safe.