Can Non Alcoholic Beer Make You Drunk? Science time.

Many a drinker, new to the world of non alcoholic beer has asked “Can i get drunk on non alcoholic beer”.

Instinctively you would think no, but how is drunk defined, how many alcoholic drinks is that and how many non alcoholic? Let’s take a look at the science involved for the answer.

In general you are unable to get drunk from non alcoholic (<0.5% ABV) beer and it is impossible to get drunk from alcohol free (0.0%) beer. The volume of non alcoholic beer required to raise your blood alcohol concentration to the legal intoxication level is not possible to consume or digest.

For a full article of 12 non alcoholic beer benefits then click here to read

Can you get drunk on non alcoholic beer?

We need to look at what the legal definition of drunk is and what the effects of lower blood alcohol concentrations might be.

Next we need to look at how many alcoholic drinks it take to raise you blood alcohol concentration to that level.

Lastly we need to translate this alcoholic beer amount into a non alcoholic beer amount and see if its humanly possible to drink that.

The short answer is you can’t get drunk on non alcoholic beer or alcohol free beer. You would likely die trying. I will proceed to explain all!

How does your blood alcohol level rise.

As you drink alcoholic drinks, you absorb the alcohol from your gut and it makes its way into your bloodstream. The more you drink, the more you absorb and the higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

On the other side of the equation is your liver. It is working away to lower the BAC and break down the alcohol. You have to drink more than the liver can break down over a given time frame for your BAC to rise.

If you drink a bottle of vodka straight over 10 minutes your blood alcohol level will spike far higher than if you drink it over the course of a day.

What are the effects of a rising BAC?

As you drink more alcohol than your liver can metabolise, your BAC rises. The effects of a rising blood alcohol concentration has been tracked by many studies.

Lots of informational websites include this data now.

  • 0.02% – Probably the lowest measurable BAC where you can track any brain issues. You may feel more relaxed and potentially make poorer decisions.
  • 0.05%: When you hit this BAC, your behaviour will may become over exaggerated. Speak louder and gesturing more are common. You may also begin to lose control of small muscles like the ones that control your eyes leading to blurry vision.
  • 0.08%: This is the current legal driving limit in the U.S and many areas around the world. It is also the legal definition of intoxicated in the US. You will likely lose some coordination, so your reaction times, speech, balance, and even hearing will deteriorate.
  • 0.10%: As we reach this BAC, reaction times and control will be reduced further. Your speech will be slurred, you think slower, and your coordination becomes poor.
  • 0.15%: Getting up to twice the legal driving limit now. You will have much less control over your balance and voluntary muscles. We have all seen someone who finds walking and talking difficult after a lot of alcohol. Falling and injuring yourself is a real possibility now.
  • 0.20-0.29%: Common features at this BAC are confusion, feeling dazed, and disorientation. Sensations of pain will change, so if you fall and seriously hurt yourself, you might not care or notice. You might not seek medical attention if you do hurt yourself. Nausea and vomiting are pretty likely with your the gag reflex starting to suffer. This can cause choking or aspirating on vomit. Blackouts begin at this BAC, so you may participate in events that you don’t remember.
  • 0.30-0.39%: You are most definitely drunk at this point. You might not be alert and the risk of death creeps in. Lots of body systems become effected. Heart rate can rise, breathing can become poor and bladder control goes.
  • 0.40% and over: This is end game territory. Alcohol is affecting all your body functions. You will be unconscious and at high risk of dying. This is a lethal blood alcohol level.

What is “drunk” legally speaking

As we found out above, a BAC of 0.08% is classed as legally intoxicated in the US. We can then work out what you need to drink to have that level of alcohol in your blood.

Clearly this topic overlaps with the previous section on drink driving as the BAC end point is the same but it’s worth spending some additional time understanding what exacted would need to be drank, in what volume and over what timescale. My blog on drinking non alcoholic drinks and driving is here.

How many standard drinks to get drunk?

So many things affect how quickly your BAC will rise. Age, sex, weight, overall health and your past drinking experience or tolerance to alcohol all play huge parts. It is therefore very different to generalise across a population.

Im a 200lb+ adult male with a decent alcohol history/tolerance and i know i can consume more than my wife who is half my weight!

2 Standard beers, consumed over an hour, would probably get your blood alcohol concentration to around the 0.4-0.6% level on average.

If you are a tiny 100lb female this might get your BAC to 0.08% so i will use this amount. You may well feel some effects of the alcohol even tho you would be under the legal intoxication threshold. I will use this for the calculations to come.

Standard drinks vs non alcoholic drinks

Ok, let’s examine how may of the various types of low and non alcoholic beers it will take to equal 2 standard beers.

12 Fl 0z Bottle of beer by ABV %x2 US/Canadian Standard DrinksequivalentDrinks needed for same alcohol volume
5% Regular Beer22
1.2% Low alcohol0.58
0.5% Dealcoholised/Non alcoholic0.220
0.05% Alcohol free0.02200
Standard beers vs low/non alcoholic beers

So you can see for a 0.5% beer you’d need to consume x20 12 fl oz beers to have the equivalent of 2 standard beers.

This means you’d need to be drinking one every 3 minutes for an hour. It is over 1.5 gallons of beer in an hour. Good luck with that. In metric that is 7 litres or over 12pints.

The numbers are even more ludicrous for the alcohol free version. Its really not humanly possible to drink x10 the previous numbers. 15 gallons, 70litres or 120pints of alcohol free beer in an hour. Im pretty sure you would be dead before you’d be drunk!

A study gave volunteers 1.5litres of sub 0.5% beer over 1hr and tested their BAC. Nearly all didn’t even get to 0.005% BAC.

Now remember this is all just to get your BAC to somewhere towards 0.08%. You would then need to keep drinking at least half that level every hour to maintain it at his level.


In general you are unable to get drunk from non alcoholic (<0.5% ABV) beer and it is impossible to get drunk from alcohol free (0.0%) beer. The volume of non alcoholic beer required to raise your blood alcohol concentration to the legal intoxication level is not possible to consume or digest.

If you did manage to drink the 1.5 gallons of beer to get near the legal intoxication level you would then need to keep drinking this amount every 1-2hrs to main it. Your liver will metabolise away 0.02% BAC an hour to reduce you back to normal.

Id not recommend trying to drink the required about of non alcoholic beer to get you drunk. Unless you don’t like your kidneys!!

For a full article of 12 non alcoholic beer benefits then click here to read

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