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29th Aug 2015

Why 5% beer gets you much more drunk than 4% beer despite the small difference

The science behind it all...sort of


There doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference between a standard 4% beer and a 5% one…

After all, it is only a 1% difference in the two, but that 1% does have a significant impact on your body.

Our bodies can process a certain amount of alcohol each hour continuously and this process doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t speed up either.

But, to break it down in simpler terms, there are about 1.4 units of alcohol in a 350ml glass of 4% beer, so if you’re drinking one beer per hour, your body is processing 1 unit of alcohol and leaving .4 units leftover to give you that slightly tipsy feeling.

If you were to have another of the same beer the next hour, the exact same process happens and you’re left with .8 units of alcohol in your body, and 1.2 units if you have another glass of beer in hour three.

Now, it’s highly likely that you’ll be having more than one beer per hour but for arguments sake, let’s stick with that measurement.


There are about 1.8 units of alcohol in a 350ml glass of 5% beer. Therefore if you’re drinking one an hour you’ll be left with an alcohol surplus of .8 units after your first beer, 1.6 after your second and 2.4 after your third.

Basically over three glasses in three hours, you will have double the amount of alcohol in your system from the 5% beer (2.4 units of alcohol) than you would have from your 4% beer (1.2 units of alcohol).

H/T Draftmag