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"ABV" redirects here. For other uses, see ABV (disambiguation).

Alcohol by volume (abbreviated as ABV, abv, or alc/vol) is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in an alcoholic beverage (expressed as a percentage of total volume).[1][2][3] It is defined as the number of millilitres of pure ethanol present in 100 millilitres of solution at 20 °C.[4] The number of millilitres of pure ethanol is the mass of the ethanol divided by its density at 20°C, which is 0.78924 g/ml. The ABV standard is used worldwide.

In some countries, alcohol by volume is referred to as degrees Gay-Lussac (after the French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac),[5] although there is a slight difference since Gay-Lussac used 15°C.

Mixing two solutions of alcohol of different strengths usually causes a decrease in volume (although if both are low strength it may be an increase). More information on calculations pertaining to mixing ethanol solutions is available in the French World Heritage Encyclopedia article fr:Calcul des titres et des volumes d'alcools.

Typical levels

Details about typical amounts of alcohol contained in various beverages can be found in the articles about individual drinks.

Drink Typical ABV
Fruit juice (naturally occurring) less than 0.1%
Low-alcohol beer 0.05%–1.2%
Kvass 0.05%–1.5%
Kombucha 0.5%–1.5%
Kefir 0.5%–2.0%
Boza 1%
Chicha 1%–11% (usually 1%–6%)
Cider 2%–8.5%
Beer 2%–12% (usually 4%–6%)
Alcopops 4%–17.5%
Malt liquor 5%+
Makgeolli 6.5%–7%
Barley wine (strong ale) 8%–15%
Mead 8%–16%
Wine 9%–16% (most often 12.5%–14.5%)[6]
Dessert wine 14%–25%
Sake (rice wine) 15% (or 18%–20% if not diluted prior to bottling)
Liqueurs 15%–55%
Fortified wine 15.5%–20%[7] (in the European Union, 18%–22%)
Soju 17%–45% (usually 19%)
Shochu 25%–45% (usually 25%)
Bitters 28%–45%
Mezcal, Tequila 32%–60% (usually 40%)
Vodka 35%–50% (usually 40%)
Brandy 35%–60% (usually 40%)
Rum 37.5%–80%
Ouzo 37.5%+
Cachaça 38%–54%
Sotol 38%–60%
Stroh 38%–80%
Nalewka 40%–45%
Gin 40%–50%
Whisky 40%–55% (usually 40% or 43%)
Baijiu 40%–60%
Chacha 40%–70%
Pálinka 42%–86% (legally in Hungary 48%–51%)
Rakia 42%–86%
Absinthe 45%–89.9%
Ţuica 45%–60% (usually 52%)
Arak 60%–65%
Poitín 60%–95%
Neutral grain spirit 85%–95%
Cocoroco 93%–96%
Rectified spirit 95%-96%

Alcohol proof

Another way of specifying the amount of alcohol is alcohol proof, which in the United States is twice the alcohol-by-volume number, while in the United Kingdom it is 1.75 times the number (expressed as a percentage).[8][9] For example, 40% abv is 80 proof in the US and 70 proof in the UK. However, since 1980, alcoholic proof in the UK has been replaced by abv as a measure of alcohol content.

Proof and alcohol by weight

In the United States, a few states regulate and tax alcoholic beverages according to alcohol by weight (abw), expressed as a percentage of total mass. Some brewers print the abw (rather than the abv) on beer containers, particularly on low-point versions of popular domestic beer brands.

At relatively low abv, the alcohol percentage by weight is about 4/5 of the abv (e.g., 3.2% abw is equivalent to 4.0% abv).[10] However, because of the miscibility of alcohol and water, the conversion factor is not constant but rather depends upon the concentration of alcohol. 100% abw, of course, is equivalent to 100% abv.

Calculation of alcohol content

During the production of wine and beer, yeast is added to a sugary solution. During fermentation, the yeast organisms consume the sugars and produce alcohol. The density of sugar in water is greater than the density of alcohol in water. A hydrometer is used to measure the change in specific gravity (SG) of the solution before and after fermentation. The volume of alcohol in the solution can then be calculated.


The simplest method for wine has been described by English author C.J.J. Berry:[11]

  • ABV = (\mathrm{Starting~SG} - \mathrm{Final~SG})/.736

ISBN 1-85486-139-5


The calculation for beer is:

Where 1.05 is the number of grams of ethanol produced for every gram of CO2 produced, and .79 is the density of ethanol,

  • ABV = \frac{1.05}{0.79} \left( \frac{\mathrm{Starting~SG} - \mathrm{Final~SG}}{\mathrm{Final~SG}} \right) \times 100 [12]

However, many brewers use the following formula:

  • ABV = 131 \left( \mathrm{Starting~SG} - \mathrm{Final~SG} \right)

See also



External links

  • How do brewers measure the alcohol in beer? HowStuffWorks
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