Beer

One Beer An Hour is Our Rule of Thumb for Drinking. It is Dead Wrong.

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“Officer, I only had two beers.”

In the United States, the rule of thumb for how our body processes alcohol is cemented into our brains. Saddle up to the bar and ask any random patron, and you are sure to get the reply: “one drink an hour.” One drink is understood as one beer, one glass of wine, or one shot.

Unfortunately, this rule of thumb is completely misguided. Why? There has been a dramatic shift in how Americans consume beer. The “one beer an hour” rule of thumb is based on drinking a bottle of Bud–12 ounces of a 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

What Has Changed?

The beer we are consuming is getting stronger, and it is often delivered as a 16-ounce American pint as opposed to a 12-ounce bottle. We are often consuming beer from pints at a brewery or brewpub, which are at their highest point since 1870.

While we often overlook the pint-versus-bottle distinction, three pints is the same quantity as four bottles–a major difference that adds up. The rise of craft brewing, which has doubled its share of the US beer market in recent years, has brought with it a major uptick in the strength of beers. Our rule of thumb, however, has not adjusted.

How much has beer strength changed? A lot. While our definition of a standard beer has been 5% ABV, a 2014 study by consumer research group Mintel found that the average craft beer is 5.9 ABV. In 2014, one out of four new beers launched were 6.5 ABV of higher. The number of beers that were higher than…

What’s the Beer Capital of the United States?

The craft beer business is booming. In the U.S., there are 5300 small breweries, and according to some industry leaders, this is the “greatest time in history to be a beer drinker in America.” But where is the best place to find a microbrew?

On the data visualization site The Pudding, Russell Goldenberg breaks down the geography of U.S. craft beer production and consumption to show you just why Santa Rosa, California might be the best place for beer in America. His visualizations—spotted by FlowingData—are based on data from RateBeer and designed to weigh both the quantity…

Would You Drink Sewage Beer? New Brew Uses Treated Sewage Water.

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Bottoms up! A Southern Calfornia brewery is taking its beer from toilet to tap.

San Diego’s Stone Brewing has started making a beer using treated sewage water. The beer, called Full Circle Pale Ale, was recently unveiled for a tasting at their brewery. The beer was made using the recycled water from Pure Water San Diego, a program that has set out to provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply through its treatment system by 2035.

Stone Brewing logo, Fair Use usage
Stone Brewing logo, Fair Use usage

Stone Brewery is one of the largest (top 10) craft breweries in the United States and has made a concerted effort towards environmental sustainability. By brewing Ful Circle Pale Ale, which will be available for sale soon, the brewery is testing consumer demand for a process with clear environmental benefits. The result, however, may be less about taste buds (water doesn’t dramatically change the flavor of beer) and more about human psychology.

Would You Drink the Beer?

When you read that the Full Circle Pale Ale was made using treated sewage water, your first reaction was probably not, “That sounds delicious!” As earlier pieces in Big Think have discussed (“Our Sense of Disgust Is Holding Back Life-Saving Innovation“), the thought of drinking treated sewage water often triggers a sense of disgust–even though…