Monday, January 09, 2006

3.2%? I DON'T THINK SO...

If you were to asked to associate anything with the state of Utah, the first thing to come to mind would most likely be Mormons. Followed closely by Polygamy and then 3.2% beer. The first-two do in fact exist, but the latter is up to interpretation.

There are two ways to measure the alcohol content in a beverage. By weight or by volume. Most of the world measures the amount of alcohol in beer by volume. However in Utah, our regulators prefer that alcohol be measured by weight. Why? who the hell knows.

Anyway, if you were to measure our 3.2% (by weight) beer in the same fashion as everyone else (by volume), they're really 4.0% beers. This percentage is in many cases just slightly less than the average alcohol content of most mainstream beers.

The graphic above, (courtesy Uinta Brewing) simplifies it nicely. Compare a pint of Bud Light (4.2%abv) with; let's say... Bohemian Breweries Pilsner (4.0%abv) the difference is 0.2% difference or 2 oz. more per glass. Not much.

Draught Guinness, one of the worlds most beloved beers comes in at a whopping 4.2% abv. I'm not saying that Utah's beers run neck-n-neck (alcohol wise) with the rest of the worlds beers. But, they aren't as weak as you might think.

One more thing. These rules only apply to beers on tap or purchased outside of state run liquor stores. Uinta makes a fantastic barley wine that comes in annually at around 10.5% abv.

To be clear. There is no limit on the amount of alcohol a beer can have in Utah. It's just a matter of where you can purchase it (liquor stores). Class is over.

Cheers!

15 comments:

Sweet 'lil Amy said...

Amen Mikey. I couldn't have explained it better myself. I've also heard that the difference is basically the same as 8 utah beers compared to 7 "normal" beers. Meaning, you have to drink 8 utah beers vs. 7 "normal" beers to even notice a difference.

Anonymous said...

Got to love it when people drive to Evanston to pick up 'high point' beers like Bud Light ( at a big 4.2% ABV).

According to my math, that's around 11 1/2 beers to our twelve-pack.

mikey said...

All these great examples show how a little dissinformation can skew peoples perceptions. It makes me laugh when people say "I can't even get abuzz on this utah stuff". Can you say 'placebo'?

Anonymous said...

Well that's all beside the point.

Do you want your beer brewed to taste or to arbitrary alcohol prescriptions mandated to us by non-beer-drinkers?

Who cares about the buzz? I want brewers to give me their best possible taste, and you don't get that with the 3.2% law. It's as simple as that.

If all you care about is getting drunk then I see your point though.

Anonymous said...

a great question that i personally couldn't have answered by the Budweiser corp. was what is different about the beers??? We all have heard Utah 4.0abv and other states 5.0abv(thats 3.2abw and 4.0abw)so whats is the difference??? I asked if it is brewed different or if different ingredients are used to keep the same taste, but at the same time have lower alcohol content, and i got no real answer. All the man told me was they remove weight????
So i asked weight of what, and thats where the conversation ended. I was told that someone higher-up in the company would call me because he couldn't answer my question. I have yet to be called back.(haha)
can anyone answer this???????

mikey said...

Basically it all comes down to sugar. Alcohol content is based on the amount of sugars present at the time of fermentation. More sugar = more alcohol. All they're doing is extracting less sugar from the malt, rice, corn or whatever they're using from the standard recipe. Does that make any sence?

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't drink light beer. I drink real beer. When I'm drinkin casually I usually drink some malt liquor like Colt 45 at about 5.75 abv. Sometimes I'll drink Natural Ice(5.9 abv) or Negro Modelo(only 5.4 abv) When I'm trying to get drunk I like to drink 211(8.1 abv) I can name quality beers that are a significant amount over 4.0 abv all day. I've even had beer that is 12.0 abv. It doesn't make sense. You have to pay more, drink more, and get less. I live in Michigan and I've been to SLC. In The SLC it seems as though people drink more alcohol than they do here, to try and compensate for those stupid regulations.

Anonymous said...

In order to remove weight, they remove sugar. Beer is nothing more than water, yeast, malt, and hops. Sugar is where the vast majority of the taste comes from.

If you take the normal beer and add water, you get Utah beer. It is by the very definition of the word a watered down version of the real thing. Yet you pay the same thing.

It's laughable that people post articles called "3.2%? I DON'T THINK SO" and then try to justify why it's okay.

Clancy said...

I think you missed the entire point of the article. It's not about "is 3.2 beer good or bad". It's about the misconceptions people have when it comes to the measurement systems used.

Besides many of those watered-down Utah beers earned a Utah brewery, Large Brewery of the Year 2010. Based on the quality of the product. I guess hundreds of industry professionals all got it wrong, while you got it right. They should all be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Well that's all beside the point.Do you want your beer brewed to taste or to arbitrary alcohol prescriptions mandated to us by non-beer-drinkers?Who cares about the buzz? I want brewers to give me their best possible taste, and you don't get that with the 3.2% law. It's as simple as that.If all you care about is getting drunk then I see your point though.

This is so not true, having less ABV actually makes brewers focus more on flavor 'cause its not masked by the acohol. Really the only thing the laws do is make it so some beers can't be sold here in Utah unless you go to a state liqour store.
And just to let everyone know Utah is not the only state with a 3.2 ABW law, there are 3 other states with the same law. Buy a but light at your local 7-11 in Utah, then go to another state like Wyoming or Cali and go to a 7-11 and you'll get the same bud light, just with a lable that says 4.0 ABV as apossed to 3.2 ABW. Remember it says "Alcohol content not more that ***" that means its not more that but could be less... A brewery is not going to make "special" beer for 4 states its all the same. They just can't sell some ales in these states that they can in others.

Sophia Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophia Scott said...

Alcohol, as a standard, is NOT measured by weight; yet for some reason its printed on there to fuck with people that dont bother to understand this. Plus, if its easy to miss that little detail it's also easy to round numbers; 3.2 automatically becomes 3. 'Regular' beer is brewed at 5% by Vol (not weight) then becomes comparable: 3% v 5%; a difference of almost HALF. Round numbers again (under the influence) and it becomes half. At that point it becomes 'I hafta drink twice as much...' Now your consumer feels they 'have to' drink twice as much; so buys twice as much. The question is...

Who is printing that the alcohol content as by weight?

T.J. Ash said...

Typical Utah Mormon BS.
Non beer drinkers making us drink inferior beer. Utah protects us from ourselves. Freedom does NOT exist in Utah!

T.J. Ash said...

3.2 is near-beer.

The Tao Of The Buddhist Mantis said...

Here's the thing no one mentions much in this argument. Yes it's true that 3.2 abw is the same as 4% by volume. And the grocery store beers brewed here in Utah all say "4% by volume", they get the highest percentage legally possible. As for the other beers not brewed in Utah, they NEVER say 4%, they say "not more than 3.2% abw", now guess what that means? They could add as much water and as little sugar to their brew as they want and sell it for the same price. Most domestic beers sold in grocery stores (Pabst, Coors, Bud, etc) are actually more like 2% by volume, and IT'S NOT FALSE ADVERTISING. You think if these companies are told to brew it as weak as possible (saving them money) they will stop when they hit 4%? There's no way. I know this because I can drink a 6 pack of Cutthroat and actually get drunk, but I drink a 12 pack of Utah Pabst and I barely feel a thing except bloated and gross. I am actually making a video that will scientifically prove this fact by measuring different peoples BAC after drinking 6 beers in one hour at 4% and then comparing it a week later to the BAC after drinking 6 "not more than 3.2%" beers in one hour. We are controlling factors such as food intake and previous water drinking. So far the evidence is conclusive. 6 "less than 3.2%" beers gives about half the BAC as 6 4% beers. Grocery store domestics are more like 2% by volume, making them impossible to get drunk off of.