Alcohol by volume
Alcohol by volume (abbreviated as ABV, abv, or alc/vol) is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage (expressed as a volume percent). It is defined as the number of millilitres of pure ethanol present in 100 millilitres (3.4 US fl oz) of solution at 20 °C (68 °F). The number of millilitres of pure ethanol is the mass of the ethanol divided by its density at 20 °C, which is 0.78924 g/ml. The ABV standard is used worldwide. The International Organization of Legal Metrology has tables of density of water–ethanol mixtures at different concentrations and temperatures.
In some countries, such as the U.K and France, alcohol by volume is referred to as degrees Gay-Lussac (after the French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac), although there is a slight difference since Gay-Lussac used 15 °C (59 °F). This results in the slight difference in marked % noted later in this article.
Mixing two solutions of alcohol of different strengths usually causes a change in volume. Mixing pure water with a solution less than 24% by mass causes a slight increase in total volume, whereas the mixing of two solutions above 24% causes a decrease in volume. The phenomenon of volume changes due to mixing dissimilar solutions is called "partial molar volume".
Details about typical amounts of alcohol contained in various beverages can be found in the articles about them.
|Fruit juice (naturally occurring)||less than 0.1%|
|Chicha||1%–11% (usually 1%–6%)|
|Beer||2%–12% (usually 4%–6%)|
|Barley wine (strong ale)||8%–15%|
|Wine||9%–16% (most often 12.5%–14.5%)|
|Sake (rice wine)||15% (or 18%–20% if not diluted prior to bottling)|
|Fortified wine||15.5%–20% (in the European Union, 18%–22%)|
|Soju||17%–45% (usually 19%)|
|Shochu||25%–45% (usually 25%)|
|Ruou (Vietnamese liquor)||27%-45% (usually 35%- except Ruou tam -40-45%)|
|Mezcal, Tequila||32%–60% (usually 40%)|
|Vodka||35%–50% (usually 40%, minimum of 37.5% in the European Union)|
|Brandy||35%–60% (usually 40%)|
|Whisky||40%–68% (usually 40%, 43% or 46%)|
|Centerbe (herb liqueur)||70%|
|Pálinka||42%–86% (legally in Hungary 48%–51%)|
|Ţuica||45%–60% (usually 52%)|
|Neutral grain spirit||85%–95%|
Another way of specifying the amount of alcohol is alcohol proof, which in the United States is twice the alcohol-by-volume number, while in the United Kingdom it is 1.75 times the number (expressed as a percentage). For example, 40% abv is 80 proof in the US and 70 proof in the UK. However, since 1980, alcoholic proof in the UK has been replaced by abv as a measure of alcohol content.
Alcohol by volume and alcohol by weight
In the United States, a few states regulate and tax alcoholic beverages according to alcohol by weight (ABW), expressed as a percentage of total mass. Some brewers print the ABW (rather than the ABV) on beer containers, particularly on low-point versions of popular domestic beer brands.
One can use the following equation to convert between ABV and ABW:
At relatively low ABV, the alcohol percentage by weight is about 4/5 of the ABV (e.g., 3.2% ABW is about 4% ABV). However, because of the miscibility of alcohol and water, the conversion factor is not constant but rather depends upon the concentration of alcohol. 100% ABW, of course, is equivalent to 100% ABV.
Prediction of alcohol content
During the production of wine and beer, yeast is added to a sugary solution. During fermentation, the yeasts consume the sugars and produce alcohol. The density of sugar in water is greater than the density of alcohol in water. A hydrometer is used to measure the change in specific gravity (SG) of the solution before and after fermentation. The volume of alcohol in the solution can then be estimated. There are a number of empirical formulae which brewers and winemakers use to estimate the alcohol content of the liquor made.
The simplest method for wine has been described by English author C.J.J. Berry:
1.05 is the ratio of ethanol molecules produced for every molecule of CO2 produced (46.07 g/mol C2H6O / 44.01 g/mol CO2 = 1.0468) from a single molecule of glucose. The number 0.7936 is the specific gravity of a 100% ethanol solution. Both are unit-less measurements. The difference between the starting SG and the final SG measures the specific gravity lost to CO2 release.
- Alcohol proof
- Unit of alcohol
- Standard drink
- Apparent molar property
- Excess molar quantity
- Volume fraction
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- Anon, 2012, Industrial Microbiology Beer Fermentation Practical, School Of Applied Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne
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- Regan, Gary (2003). The Joy of Mixology. Clarkson Potter. ISBN 978-0-609-60884-5.
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