How Many Non Alcoholic Beers To Get Drunk? Is it possible?


Non alcoholic beer is rising in popularity every year. Sales are compounding into the double digits, every big brand now has a non alcoholic equivalent and the amount of new non alcoholic craft breweries is huge. One of the big questions anyone new to the space is asking is “how many non alcoholic beers to get drunk?”

It might sound like a silly question but it really isn’t. Non alcoholic beers look, taste and are marketed like beers and unless you take some time out to think about it, you might not be aware of how much alcohol is actually in them and if that is enough to get you drunk.

How many non alcoholic beers to get drunk?

Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The S...
Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The Same

The CDC average 160lb adult male needs to drink x4 12fl oz cans of 5% ABV beer to get drunk. x10 0.5% ABV non alcoholic beers equals one standard 5% beer so you would need to drink x40 non alcoholic beers to get drunk. These would have to be drank over a 1-2 hr period as your body is constantly metabolising the alcohol.

How much alcohol is in a non alcoholic beer?

“Non alcoholic” is sometimes used as a catch all term for all low alcohol beers or all beers with an ABV of less than 0.5%. Although, strictly speaking, in the US and UK, a non alcoholic beer will have an ABV of between 0.05% and 0.5% with the vast majority having 0.5% ABV.

The labelling can be confusing along with the terminology. In the EU, they are allowed to label 0.5% beers as “alcohol free” and not “non alcoholic”

I have written a full article on labelling of non alcoholic beer, which you can read here

There are many reasons for the slight difference in alcohol from a <0.05% beer to a 0.5% beer which i have full explored here. As with most things in life, it tends to come down to cost and perception.

What a standard beer?

In order to do any math and multiplication, we need to know what a standard alcoholic beer is and what ABV it has. Step in the USDA. They have defined a standard beer as having 5% alcohol by volume and a fluid volume of 12fl oz.

This makes the calculations rather easy as most non alcoholic beers have a ABV of 0.5%, meaning there is a factor of 10 difference.

The standard bit of the standard beer is because 12fl oz of 5% alcohol will give you 14g of alcohol (0.6 ounces). This amount of alcohol is then applied to other volumes to get different standard ABV concentrates for other drinks…

Drink and volumeAlcohol content
12fl oz Beer5%
5fl oz Wine12%
1.5fl oz Spirit40%
Standard Drinks

How many non alcoholic beers equals one beer?

I have dedicated a full article to this question here, but the executive summary is…

A non alcoholic beer has 0.5% alcohol by volume and an alcoholic beer (according to the USDA) has 5% alcohol by volume. Therefore, you would need to drink 10 non alcoholic beers of the same volume to equal one alcoholic beer of the same volume (in terms of alcohol).

What is the legal definition of “drunk”?

The next thing to do is find an actual definition of what being drunk is. It isn’t just a subjective guess but has an actual scientific definition.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is classed as legally intoxicated in the US.

So where does a BAC of 0.08% fit in and what are the effects you will be feeling just before and after this level?

What is blood alcohol concentration and what happens as it rises?

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.

How many alcoholic beers to get drunk?

Now we are getting to the actual workable numbers. How many alcoholic beers ( of about 5% ABV) does the average adult need to drink to get to a BAC of 0.08% and be classed as legally drunk?

The CDC tells us that the average 160lb adult male will need to drink 4 standard drinks, in the case beers, to get to a BAC of 0.08%.

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!

We will continue to work with the CDC 160lb adult male and his 4 standard drinks to get drunk.

How many non alcoholic beers to get drunk?

If you need to drink 4 standard beers to get drunk and 10 non alcoholic beers equals one standard beer, therefore you need to drink 40 non alcoholic beers to get drunk.

Over how long would you need to drink them?

The caveat to the fact you need to drink 40 non alcoholic beers to get drunk, is you don’t have all day to do this. As soon as you start drinking the alcohol and it is absorbed via the intestines, the liver will begin to metabolise it and lower your blood alcohol concentration.

You therefore have a limited amount of time to drink the 40 beers. Anything after 2 hours and your liver will have the upper hand and will be able to keep your BAC concentration below 0.08% and the legal level for being drunk.

This leads us nicely to the last question…

Can you get drunk drinking non alcoholic beer?

Can you get drunk drinking non alcoholic beer?

To get drunk, you need to drink x40 12fl oz cans of non alcoholic beer in less than 2 hrs.

This equals 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer, 3.5 gallons of non alcoholic beer or 14.2 litres of beer in 2hours.

Anther way to look at it is you will have to drink a 12fl oz can of non alcoholic beer, every 3mins, for 2 hours, to get drunk.

It is not possible to drink 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer in 2 hours, so it is not possible to get drunk on non alcoholic beer.

philmcclelland

Hi im Phil. Im the sole writer on this site. For more info look at my about page https://www.openingthebottle.com/about-us/

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