Glossary and abbreviations

ABV is the abbreviation for “Alcohol by volume”. Actually, it is the measurement of the percentage volume of alcohol by volume of the beverages (beer, liquor, wine, spirits…). Alcohol by volume (abbreviated as ABV, abv, or alc./vol.) is a standard measure, it is defined as the number of millilitres (ml) of pure ethanol present in 100 ml 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, this mean when the beverage is finished, the specific gravity (comparison of its density vs the density of water) is always less than when it started, because some of the sugars have been converted into alcohol (fermentation), which is less dense than water (0.78924 g/ml).

Alcohol proof is a measure of the content of alcohol in an alcoholic beverage. The term in the UK it is equal to about 1.75 times the alcohol by volume ABV. In the United States, alcohol proof is defined as twice the percentage of ABV. The maximum for distilled spirits is 191-proof because not all of the water can be distilled from ethanol.

ABW is the abbreviation for “Alcohol by Weight.” It is the percentage weight of alcohol per liquid volume.

Gravity, in the context of fermenting alcoholic beverages, refers to the specific gravity, or relative density compared to water, of the wort or must at various stages in the fermentation. The concept is used in the brewing and wine-making industries. The density of the wort depends on the sugar content on it. During alcohol fermentation, yeast converts sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

The percentage of alcohol can be calculated from the difference between the original gravity (OG) of the wort and the specific gravity (SG) of wort. The bigger the difference, the greater the amount of alcohol present and consequently the stronger the beverage. By monitoring the decline in SG over time the brewer obtains information about the health and progress of the fermentation and determines that it is complete when gravity stops declining. If the fermentation is finished, the specific gravity is called the final gravity (FG).

IBU is the abbreviation forThe International Bittering Units” is used to approximately quantify the bitterness of the beer. This scale is not measured on the perceived bitterness of the beer. The bitterness of the beer is provided by compounds such as alpha acids from hops used during brewing. This is expressed on a scale of 1 (lower bitterness) to 100 (highest bitterness).

Details about typical amounts of alcohol in different beverages

Drink Typical ABV
Beers Between 3% – 12%
Brown Ale 4% – 6%
IPA 6% – 7%
Lager 4% – 5%
Low-alcohol beer 0.05% – 1.2%
Pilsner 3% – 6%
Porter 4% – 5%
Stout 5% – 10%
Spirits Between 15% – 95% 
Absinthe 55% – 90%
Brandy 35% – 60%
Cachaça 38% – 54%
Cask Strength Whiskey 60%
Gin 40% – 50%
Grappa 35% – 60%
Neutral Grain Spirits 95%
Rectified Spirits 96%
Rum 37.5% – 80%
Tequila & Mezcal 32% – 60%
Vodka 35% – 50%
Whisky 40% – 68%
Bitters 28% – 45%
Cider  4% – 8.5%
Fruit juices Less than 0.1%
Kombucha 0.5% – 1.5%
Liqueurs  15% – 25%





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