Is it better to drink beer or spirits? Another popular question, usually asked by people who are trying to justify their drinking or by someone who has been talking to someone who is trying to justify their drinking.
The simple answer is that it really doesn’t matter because alcohol is alcohol is alcohol. For example a bar measure of spirits (about 25 ml) contains the same amount of alcohol as a half pint of beer which contains the same amount as a small glass of wine. Each of these drinks contain the amount that an average person’s liver can metabolise in one hour.
So if someone were to drink one of these drinks every hour, they would never become intoxicated. However when they exceed this amount then the liver cannot handle the excess amount and it starts to build up in the blood stream and in the body and we begin to become intoxicated.
Where the difference lies between these drinks quite obviously is the volume of liquid in which the alcohol is diluted. So there is far more water in beer (about 3% alcohol) whereas spirits are around 40% alcohol. Therefore if you were to drink the same amount of beer and spirits (which we rarely do) your blood alcohol level would rise much quicker.
In the UK the amount of alcohol that can be metabolised by the liver in one hour is called one unit. In some other countries the actual amount of alcohol in the drinks varies a little but the principle is similar. If you are from the USA you may be familiar with the term ‘standard drink’. All countries now have guidelines about how much we should drink to prevent us from damaging our health.
So is it better to drink beer or spirits? The answer is that it makes no real difference.