Metrolab Blog

Alcoholic strength in beer

A universal drink, symbol of a way of being, of a culture. Those who work in the world of beer have the luxury and perhaps the challenge of having to deal with all this.
Beer is synonymous of friendship, refreshment, and entertainment.
But what drives people to choose one beer over another? How is it possible to determine the alcoholic volume that has an important impact on consumers’ choices?

Beer is the result of the fermentation of sugars derived from cereals. Alcohol is the result of the fermentation of yeast by-products that metabolize certain derived cereals and fermentable sugars into alcohol and CO2. The final level of alcohol in a given beer depends on the yeast used, the amount of digestible sugar and the fermentation method.
The alcohol content of beer is usually around 4-6% alcohol by volume (ABV), although it can vary between 0.5% and 20% given the variety of beers on the market today.
The alcohol content is so important that some countries such as the European Union have issued regulations (Regulation (EU) 1169 of 25 October 2011) that obliges all the producers of beer with more than 1.2% alcohol to declare the actual alcoholic strength by volume.
In the USA, ABV labeling requirements are dictated by individual states but reference AOAC for a distillation-hydrometric method as an acceptable testing method.

But how is this parameter determined?
An effective method involves steam distillation: the distillate obtained is an ethanol-water mixture. Using a density measurement with a pycnometer and expressing the results through the official tables, the alcoholic strength can be calculated.

VELP’s UDK family are the necessary instruments for the process of distillation.

Find out how to determine the alcohol content of your beer and download our Application Note.