How Many Beers Equal a Shot of Vodka?

If you have ever gone out for a few beers with friends and one of them started buying vodka shots in between pints of beers you may have wondered how the shots compare to the pints and how many beers equal a shot of vodka.

Most of us have heard that one glass of beer is equal to one glass of wine which is equal to one shot of hard liquor or in this case vodka.

But what exactly does that mean, and where did they come up with this equation? Beer is served in many different sizes and depending on which country you are in vodka shot sizes can be different, which can make determining how many beers it actually takes to equal a shot a bit confusing.

So to begin with, let’s first take a look at what constitutes a standard drink…

What is a Standard Shot of Vodka?

As we have alluded to it all depends where you are located in the world when you order a shot of Vodka. In the United States, a shot is 1.48 oz or 43.7 ml. However, as you will see in some places a shot can be a lot less or even a lot more than the standard size in the US.

  • Russia 1.69 oz or 50 ml
  • Canada 1.44 oz or 42.5 ml
  • The UK .84 oz or 24.8 ml
  • Australia 1.01 oz or 29.8 ml
  • Japan 2.02 oz or 59.7 ml
  • Ireland 1.20 oz or 35.4 ml

What is a Standard Sized Beer?

Beer also comes in many different sizes and packaging. Again depending on where in the world you are if you go into a pub and order a pint of beer the size is going to vary.

In most places, around the world, they use a standard pint-size of either the US 16 oz or the Imperial 20 oz. However, it is important to be aware that many establishments serve their draught beer in sizes smaller and even larger than those standard sizes.

And if you order a bottle or can of beer they both hold approximately 12 ounces of beer.

Definition of a Standard Drink 
a shot of vodka and a beer on a bar next to the words how many beers equal a shot of vodka.
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So why do they say one beer is equal to one shot of vodka or one glass of wine? It all comes down to math. The definition of a standard drink is 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol; and one beer, one shot, and one glass of wine all contain approximately that much alcohol.

Here is how the math breaks down:

When determining how much alcohol is in a typical 12 oz serving of beer with 5% ABV (alcohol by volume), you would multiply the alcohol percentage or 5% by the size of the drink or 12 oz which equals the 0.6 oz of alcohol (12 x.05 = 0.6).

The same goes for determining how much alcohol is in a shot of Vodka, take the shot size of 1.5 oz and multiply it by the alcohol percentage which is 40% and we see it also equals 0.6 oz of alcohol (1.5 x .4 = 0.6).

Alcohol Content & Serving Size Matters

It is important to understand that the above math is great in theory, however, there are some important things to keep in mind in regards to understanding that not all drinks are created with equal alcohol percentages and they also do not always come in standard drink sizes.

If you enjoy craft beer you know that their ABV can be significantly higher than a commercial beer such as a Budweiser. They are also typically served in beer pints or glasses that hold much more beer than the 12 fluid ounces that cans and bottles hold.

For example, a pint of craft beer could come in a 20 oz glass and have an alcohol percentage of 6.5%. When you drink one you have actually consumed 1.3 fluid oz of alcohol. Which is more than double the amount you would in a standard beer.

The same goes for vodka. As you have seen shot sizes around the world are different and you can also find stronger vodka on the market than the standard 40% ABV or 80 proof. Which can result in you consuming more than the 0.6% fluid oz of a standard drink.

How Many Beers Equal a Shot of Vodka?

As long as you are drinking a standard-size beer with an alcohol content of 5%, one of them will be the equivalent to a single 1.5 oz shot of 40% (80 proof) vodka.

Some people wonder if this rule applies if they have more than one shot. As long as you are having the same amount of beer in the same amount of time as the vodka shot the rule applies. Meaning if you drink 3 shots in 1 hour it is the same as 3 beers in one hour.

Calories in a Shot Vs a Beer

Now if you are wondering if a beer and a vodka shot are the same in regards to calories that is a completely different story.

A shot of vodka has a lot fewer calories than a glass of beer. A 40% ABV or 80 proof 1.5 oz shot of vodka will have approximately 96 calories. Whereas a 12 oz serving of 5% beer will have anywhere from 150 – 200 calories.

This is why most beer drinkers end up with a beer belly and why most people who are weight conscious prefer hard liquor.

Responsible Drinking

An average person’s body will be able to process one standard drink an hour. If you consume any more than that you will become intoxicated.

This is something to keep in mind if you are planning on doing shots instead of drinking beer. When you go out for a beer it is easy to sip on one for an hour, whereas doing a shot takes 1-2 seconds. If you do multiple shots you are going to become drunk while your friend who is sipping on their beer does not.

Another thing to consider when drinking responsibly is that many people have the misunderstanding that by drinking beer they are not consuming as much alcohol and as a result will overindulge. Most people would not do 4 – 5 shots on a relaxing evening, but some people would drink 4 – 5 beers. As you have seen they are the same, which is something to be aware of.

The key to responsible drinking is knowing your limits and sticking to them.

Additional reading: How many beers does it take to get drunk?

Frequently Asked Questions

How many shots is a glass of beer?

We have already looked at the alcohol percentages between a shot and a glass of beer, however, when it comes to straight volume, it depends on the size of the beer glass. A shot holds approximately 1.5 oz. A can or bottle holds 12 oz, which means it would hold 8 shots. A 16 oz US pint would hold 10.7 shots and a 20 oz Imperial pint would hold 13.3 shots.

How many beers equal a pint of vodka?

There are 16 fluid ounces in a pint of vodka. Keeping in mind that 1.5 oz of vodka is a standard drink and is the equivalent of a 12 oz of beer it works out that 10.6 beers equals a pint of vodka.

To Wrap it Up

Just remember the rule of thumb that most people abide by in regards to a standard drink, one 12 oz beer is the same as one glass of wine which is also the same as one shot of vodka or any other hard liquor. But remember that alcohol content can be higher in both beer and vodka depending on the brand or style and serving sizes can also vary.

Cheers, Big Robb is Out!

Big Robb with a pint of home brewed beer
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P.S. If you brew your own beer or are thinking about starting, be sure to grab the recipes for my top 5 best-selling beers from my brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom on your smart device. Enjoy!

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