Alcohol percentages and beer: German beers are not that strong.

Is American beer weaker than German beer?

Many Americans ask this question, or even more often, assume this to be true. Many American beers are stronger and many are weaker than the usual beers of Germany, but to be fair we should probably take the average American beers versus the average German beers, right? Heres a break-down:

Budweiser: 5%
Miller Genuine Draft: 4.7%
Busch: 4.6%
Michelob: 5%
Pabst: 5%
Bud Light: 4.2%
Rolling Rock: 4.6%
Red Hook ESP: 5.8%
Samuel Adams Boston Lager: 4.75%
Samuel Adams India Pale Ale: 5.9%
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: 5.6%
Petes Wicked Ale: 5.3%
Pyramid India Pale Ale: 6.7%
Leinenkugel Honey Weiss: 4.9%
Natural Ice (my favorite and yours): 5.9%

Augustiner Helles: 5.2%
Augustiner Edelstoff: 5.6%
Paulaner Helles: 4.9%
Hof Bräu Helles: 5.1%
Löwenbräu Helles: 5.2%
Erdinger Weissbier: 5.3%
Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Hell: 4.9%
Oettinger Hell: 4.7%
Warsteiner: 4.8%
Bitburger: 4.8%
Becks: 5%
Diebels: 4.8%
Dom Kölsch: 4.8%
Berliner Kindl Weisse: 3%

(Really, look at Budweiser compared to Paulaner for example…two very common beers of a similar type (lager), within the margin of error %, so basically the same amount of alcohol)

Wait, wait, wait…hold on a minute, are you saying my local beer is weaker than American beer?

That could very well be the case (especially if youre from the UK or Ireland where Ales are most prevalent). Why dont we look at other beers you might be familiar with for a full comparison. Depending on the type of beer, it may or may not be true. You really have to compare specific brands and types rather than generalize.

Guinness: 4.2%
Beamish: 4.95%
Amstel: 5%
Heineken: 5.4%
Grolsch: 5%
Corona: 4.6%
Victoria Bitter: 4.8%
Boddingtons: 4.1%
Worthington White Shield: 5.6%
Harveys Old Ale: 3.6%
Stella Artois: 5.2%
Molson Canadian: 5%
Labatt Blue: 5%
Coors: 5%
Coors light: 4%
Newcastle Brown Ale: 4.7%
Bass Ale 4.4%
Fosters: 5.1%
Sapporo: 5.2%

What is the main cause of this misunderstanding?

Alcohol by weight is the standard measurement in the United States. Alcohol by volume is the standard worldwide. If a beer is 3.2% alcohol by weight, thats 4% by volume, for example. More on that theme here.

For the record:  My actual favorite beer does not appear on any of the above lists.

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