Beer is experiencing a rebirth as popular brands hold the spotlight while craft beer is increasingly popular and growing in variety. With all that choice, knowing the answer to the key question of how many beers to get drunk will determine a lot about how your adventures unfold.
American beer is experiencing a new renaissance, with the types and variants of beer that are available on the market reaching a historic high. No longer can we only choose from Budweiser, Coors, or Miller, but instead have hundreds of emerging craft brewers to provide us with a growing variety of brews. Knowing how many beers to get drunk is important to ensure that we safely and responsibly enjoy our brews.
Beer is experiencing a new era of popularity. No longer are our choices limited to the can with mountains, the can with horses, or the few cans with golden lettering. We have India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, Extra Bitter Ales, Extra Bitter Pale Ales, Lagers, Wild Spontaneously Fermented Wild Ales, Kettle Soured Beer, Fruit-Infused Ales and Blondes, Stouts, Imperial Stouts, Biscotti Stouts, and endless other options. The specialty beers available on the market are also increasingly intoxicating with high levels of alcohol alongside their unique flavors, bring us to the question of when to say when as we figure out how many beers to get drunk.
When To Say When
Knowing when to say when is how to keep our bodies free from alcohol poisoning and the roads safe from DUIs. Understanding how many beers to get drunk is accomplished by exploring the key factors involved in the drunkenness equation. These factors are those of the alcohol by volume of our beer, the ABV, as well as our height, weight, and age. The interplay of these factors determines how quickly alcohol causes intoxication, and how quickly alcohol is processed through the body so to again regain a clear state of mind.
The amount of alcohol that is recommended to be consumed on a weekly basis to remain within healthy borders varies from nation to nation. For example, in Europe, the amount recommended is 14 beers per week, while in the United States closer to 25 pints of beer weekly is considered the norm. Whatever the normal amount of beer per week might be recommended in our nation of residence, it is our age, weight, and height that impact how we process beer, and the alcohol content of beer that determines how many beers to get drunk.
How Many Beers To Get Drunk: Measuring Beer ABV Height, Weight, and Age
When considering the many factors that influence your level of intoxication, the degree to which you are feeling the alcohol is influenced by a variety of factors. The height, weight, and age of the person drinking are the most commonly referenced factors and will be explored here further. What we have to keep in mind before considering the characteristics of the individual drinker is the alcohol content of the drink itself.
Not all beers are created equal, both in terms of flavor and also the alcohol content. It is the alcohol content of beer that gives us that pleasant feeling a few beers in, and it is also the alcohol that can make us reach a level of intoxication that makes it illegal to drive. It is important to stay away from the number of drinks that lead to legal liability as nothing ruins a high-spirited night more and faster than a DUI. A glass of wine generally has a 1:1 ratio with a 12-ounce beer or a shot of alcohol, although this considers a beer that is approximately 4% alcohol. The alcohol percentage of a beer is the ABV, the alcohol by volume.
The ABV of beers can vary widely, so make sure to pay attention. While a Budweiser or a Coors may have a similar and classic level of alcohol, there is no longer much consistency in terms of beer ABV. Modern craft beer is often quite a bit stronger than 4% alcohol. Before computing how many beers you might be able to drink in a given amount of time without reaching levels of intoxication that make it illegal for you to drive, look to the alcohol content of your brew.
India Pale Ales (IPA) is the most common type of beer at the current time, with many local breweries across the nation producing their own version of the IPA. IPAs are often 6-8%, and doubles or triples can reach levels in the range of 8-12%. If your beer is at 12% and you drink a 16-ounce pint glass, you have essentially consumed 4 12-ounce cans of traditional 4% beer. 1 12% IPA puts you 4 drinks in, and at this point, we must now turn to your age, weight, and height to see how intoxicated the beer will make you feel.
Contrary to popular belief, it is height and not weight that is most impact on the amount of beer it takes to get drunk. Individuals who are taller are larger and have bigger circulatory systems, meaning that the alcohol will spread out in larger, taller bodies and thus take longer to begin making us feel drunk. A person who is 5 feet tall will naturally have a smaller circulatory system than someone who is 6 feet, regardless of the age or weight of the individual.
As mentioned, weight has been the traditional factor we consider when determining the answer to how many beers does it take to get drunk. The lower our weight, the fewer beers we may drink before becoming intoxicated. A person who weighs 100 pounds will reach a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) of .08 within 2 drinks. A BAC of .08 is the level at which driving becomes illegal in most states, while a BAC of just .02 leads to an impairment that can range in significance from person to person.
The average 200-pound person can drink 4 drinks while still maintaining a level of .06 and still be legal to drive. Judgment begins to suffer however at just .02 BAC, and thus it is not recommended that individuals drive after having consumed any alcohol. Reaction times and reflexes may be stifled by alcohol, and even the smallest amount of impact can cause an unfortunate accident. When BAC level of .09 has been reaching, we are legally intoxicated and can be liable for being as such in public, with potential criminal penalties beginning at .14 and above, or 8 drinks for a person who weighs 200 pounds or 4 drinks for a person who weighs 100 pounds.
An element of our weight that affects how we process alcohol, and one that is not often factored into consumption rates, is that of body-fat. When considering how much of our bodies that are affected by alcohol, we look to our lean body mass, where liquids and blood move freely through the circulatory system. Body-fat content does not process these liquids and thus does not factor into the absorption and the metabolization of alcohol.
An example will help us better understand the interplay of our weight and our body-fat composition. A person who weighs 200 pounds but has a body-fat percentage of 20 will have 40 pounds of body-fat, so in terms of alcohol absorption and processing, they are effectively 160 pounds and become intoxicated far sooner than the chart would indicate someone who weighs 200 pounds would. So we have to make sure we consider not only our height and weight when asking how many beers to get drunk, but also our body-fat level.
Age can have two relatively substantial effects upon us in terms of how we process alcohol. The first of these is tolerance. If we habitually consume alcohol on a regular basis, the body may adapt and develop a tolerance. The body produces proteins and cell membrane components that prevent intoxication, leading to a higher amount of alcohol being necessary to feel inebriated. Feeling inebriated and inebriated in terms of our BAC, however, are not always the same, and so while tolerance may reduce how intoxicated we feel, our BAC may nevertheless be illegal.
Beyond the potential of building tolerance, knowing how many beers to get drunk is important to maintain our ability to operate a motor vehicle. As we get up there in age, our reaction time is increasingly impacted by alcohol, and so our driving ability will decrease with fewer beers than in the past. Keep this in mind when knocking back the brews if you have to get home afterward and don't plan on using an Uber or a cab or don't have a designated driver in place.
How many beers to get drunk? The answer is, in two words: it depends. Our own characteristics and those of the beer we are drinking will determine how quickly we begin to feel intoxicated, and how long it will take our body to process the alcohol and return again to sobriety. Beer is delicious, but it is also an intoxicant, so make sure to track your consumption, and stay safe for yourself and others.