Don't Look To The Color Of Your Beer To Indicate Its Alcohol Content

If you're a new beer enjoyer — or if you just don't know a ton about the different types of beer yet — then you may be wondering if the drink's color has anything to do with its alcohol content. After all, if you've had a stout, which is a popular type of dark beer, then you know that the brewed beverage can sometimes have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 12% or 13% — which is a whole lot higher than, say, Stella Artois, a well-known light-colored beer, which has an ABV of just 5%.

However, as it turns out, the color of your beer really is not the tell-all-be-all of how much alcohol it contains. While many light beers, such as lagers, do have lower percentages, something like a double IPA (India pale ale) has a lighter color but likely also has an ABV between 7% and 10%. Meanwhile, not all dark beers have high percentages. Guinness – which is easily the most well-known stout out there — has an ABV of just 4.2%.

What ABVs to expect with most common beers

One common and popular beer type is lager, Budweiser and Corona being two well-known examples. Lagers typically have a pretty low ABV, with the average falling between 4% and 5%. A similar beer type to lager is the Pilsner, which is both light in color and considered easy to drink. Pilsners also have low ABVs, ranging between 4% and 6%.

If you've indulged in an IPA, then you know that it definitely has a stronger and often more bitter flavor than lagers or Pilsners. However, the alcohol content isn't always that much higher. The ABVs of IPAs usually sit somewhere between 6% and 8%. But, as mentioned above, a double IPA will likely boast a much higher ABV, probably somewhere between 8% and 14%. There are even triple IPAs out there, which will have an ABV of at least 9.5% — and notably, one triple IPA from Flying Dog Brewery boasts an ABV of 18.6%.

Meanwhile, pale ales and amber ales usually have ABVs ranging between 4% and 6%, making them a good middle ground between a light lager and an IPA. If a sour beer is more your style, you can expect the ABV to hover somewhere around 3% to 5%, although there are some that get as high as 8%. Finally, the darkest-colored beers are stouts and porters. Stouts are a bit stronger, with their ABVs ranging from 4% to 9%, while porters usually have an ABV between 4.5% and 6%.