Let's talk about Alcohol

16 August 2018 Published in Haas Style Blog

Let’s talk about alcohol. For many out of towners as well as quite a few Utahns the 3.2% alcohol is confusing. The big problem is there are two ways of representing gravity, alcohol by weight(abw) and alcohol by volume(abv).

Here in Utah our draft beer and beer sold in grocery stores is limited to 3.2% alcohol by weight. That is the amount of alcohol compared to the weight. That is different than the alcohol listed on the can or bottle, which is alcohol by volume. 3.2% abw is the same as 4.0% abv. The example I like to use is the difference between abw and abv is like the difference between inches and centimeters. The distance between 2 points are going to bring 2 very different numeric answers but it is still the same distance. It is just different representations.

Why all these confusing differences? I don't know. Part of it is that our illustrious legislature has put our limits on alcohol as a percentage of weight. The Federal government however is in charge of label approval for beer and they only use abv. That is part of the confusion with alcohol here in Utah. So 3.2% abw is the same as 4.0% abv.

The rule of thumb is alcohol by volume is 1.25 times the number of alcohol by weight. Besides draft beer in Utah it is very easy to compare alcohol, as all packaged product is regulated by the federal government and so use abv. Is this making sense, are you still confused? How many beers have you had before and while reading this? That may be the problem. Alcohol and alcohol laws can be very confusing. The key is just follow your taste buds. They usually don’t lead you astray. Cheers