When you’re drinking at a bar, you’ve got options. You can sit back and drink some beer, try out some new IPA’s, stouts, sour beers, and much more. Or you can take things a different direction. Whiskey coke, vodka lemonade, margaritas, or other mixed drinks are popular options. And lastly, you can take shots. Well, when you go out to a bar with a bunch of friends, you’ll likely have people trying all three of these methods to get a little buzz going.
At some point, you may try comparing who’s drunken most throughout the night, but how do you do this when you’ve been drinking beer and your buddy vodka. That’s why we’re here to help you figure out how many beers equal a shot.
How Much Alcohol is in a Shot?
Before we can answer this, let’s talk about what we mean by a shot. We all know what a shot is, but there are many different kinds and sizes out there. For the sake of this guide, when we refer to a shot, we are talking about a standard 1.5 oz shot of 40% ABV or 80 proof liquor. So, how much alcohol is that?
Well, 40% of the 1.5 oz is alcohol. Since 1.5 x .4 = .6, there are 0.6 ounces of alcohol in a standard shot.
How Much Alcohol is in a Beer?
This is a little more complicated because beer varies more greatly than liquor, especially at bars. Vodka is typically 40% abv and a shot is 1.5 oz. Beer, however, ranges from 4% to 12% and it’s served in a 12 oz or 16 oz glass. That’s not to say liquor doesn’t have a wide range of ABV, but the popular liquor served at bars is usually 80 proof.
Let’s just go ahead and say we are talking about a can of Budweiser. Budweiser is 5% ABV and comes in a 12 oz can or bottle. So, we are talking about 5% of 12 oz. Since 12 x .05 = .6, then a can of Budweiser has 0.6 oz of alcohol
One Beer is Equal to One Shot
A standard shot has the same amount of alcohol as your standard beer, just as they both have the same amount of alcohol as your standard glass of wine. So, if you and your buddies have had 5 beers and 5 shots, you’ve consumed the same amount of alcohol.
But not so fast! There are other things to consider as well. What if you’re drinking 16 oz beers? what if you’re drinking stronger beers? How about stronger liquor, or mixed shots? Let’s take a look.
What is ABV and Why Does it Matter?
There are two things that determine the alcohol content of a given drink. First, the volume of the liquid. Whether it’s 1.5 oz, 5 oz, 12, 16, or anything else. Second, is the ABV. ABV stands for alcohol by volume. To put it simply, it’s a percentage of how much alcohol there is in comparison to how much liquid there is.
If the ABV of a given drink is 50%, then half the volume is alcohol. If it’s 10%, then one-tenth of the volume is alcohol. Let’s take a look at how drinking an IPA might change things up.
How Much Alcohol is in an IPA?
IPA’s can have a pretty wide range in ABV, but when it comes to a restaurant they are usually between 6-10%. We are going to look at an 8% ABV IPA that comes in a 16 oz glass. 16 x .08 = 1.28 oz. This may come as a shock to you, but this means that a 16 oz IPA that has 8% ABV has over 2 times the alcohol as a shot.
For a 1.5 oz shot to equal one of these IPA’s, it would have to have 85% ABV. There are only a couple spirits out there that strong, and you probably don’t want to take a shot of them.
Even a 12 oz glass of an 8% IPA would have .96 oz of alcohol, so if you’re looking at getting a buzz, drinking an IPA might be the best way to do it.
Do You Get Drunk Quicker from Shots of Vodka or Beer?
As we’ve discussed, this wholly depends upon the type of beer and liquor you are drinking. However, if we take the standard drinks, a beer and a shot will get you equally impaired. However, shots have the ability to get you drunk quicker than beer because you can drink them quicker. It usually takes 15+ minutes to drink a beer (when sipped at a normal pace) whereas a shot can be thrown back in mere seconds.
If you take a shot every 15 minutes vs drinking a beer every 15 minutes, the results will be the same. Taking shots does give you the ability to take more in a smaller time frame, so it is easier to get drunk quickly taking shots.
How Many Beers Equal a Shot – Conclusion
When it comes to your standard drink, a beer, glass of wine, and a shot all contain the same amount of alcohol, 0.6 oz. However, this is just your standard drink. If you’re drinking 100 proof or 50% ABV liquor, there will be .75 oz of alcohol. A double shot of 40% liquor would be 1.2 oz. So, it greatly depends on the size of your beer or shot and the ABV of your beer or shot.
However, when you’re out at a bar, most of the shots available will be standard 1.5 oz and 40% ABV. If this is the case, one beer is likely more than one shot. If you’re to order beer, it’s likely going to come in a 16 oz glass. Any beer that is 4% ABV or higher, will have more alcohol than a shot. Next, if you are to take into account stronger beers such as IPA’s, there’s a possibility that one beer is equal to two shots.
Beer or Shot? Try a Boilermaker
If you’re trying to decide between getting a shot or a beer, why not get both? A boilermaker is a beer cocktail that mixes a shot into a beer. Now, I know this may not sound very good, but you’ll be surprised at how good a boilermaker can be. In fact, you may have had one or two in your life before.
Boilermakers, the drink, comes to us from actual boilermakers – men who built and repaired boilers for industrial trains and ships. After a long days work they’d head to the local pub and get their favorite drink. A beer and a shot.
Below is a list of some of the most popular boilermakers for you to try.
- Irish Car Bomb / Guinness + Jameson + Bailey’s – The Irish car bomb is one of the most popular boilermakers out there. A shot of Jameson and Bailey’s is dropped into half a pint of Guinness and chugged.
- Jagerbomb – A shot of Jager dropped into a beer. It’s more common today to be served with red bull or any energy drink, but the origins of a jagerbomb are as a boilermaker. Typically enjoyed with a lager.
- Sake Bomb – A shot of sake stands over a Japanese beer on chopsticks. You bang the table, the shot drops into the beer and you chug!
- Tequila + Mexican Beer – Drop a shot of tequila in a Modelo or Corona. You can even add a splash of orange juice to mix it up too!
- Gin + IPA – Be careful here as a shot of gin paired with a strong IPA can have you feeling the effects of alcohol quickly!
Below are frequently asked questions concerning the alcohol levels of beer vs shots. Many of these have been answered in the article above.
How Many Beers Equal a Shot of Vodka?
This depends on what type of liquor and what type of beer you’re drinking. A standard shot of vodka (1.5 oz with 40% ABV) has 0.6 oz of alcohol. A standard 12 oz beer with 5% abv also has 0.6 oz of alcohol. So, one shot of vodka is equal to one beer.
Is a Shot Healthier than Beer?
From a calorie perspective, yes. A 12 oz beer has roughly 150 calories. Light beer is usually around 100 calories or just under 100 for a 12 oz drink. A 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof (40% ABV) liquor has 97 calories. So, one shot is equal to one light beer, but less than craft beer.
What is a Boilermaker?
A boilermaker is a shot of liquor dropped into a beer. An Irish car bomb is a form of a boilermaker. Not all boilermakers are meant to be chugged either. You can simply sip the beer after pouring the shot in.
How Many Beers Equal a Shot of Whiskey?
One beer is equal to one shot of whiskey. This is taking into account that the whiskey is 80 proof and comes in a 1.5 oz shot glass. Also, that the beer is 12 oz and 5% ABV. However, whiskey is often higher than 80 proof. If you’re drinking 90 proof whiskey (or something higher), it’ll contain more alcohol than a standard beer.