How Many Beers Equal a Shot?

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It is always smart to keep track of your drinking, regardless of the beverage type you prefer. However, the number of drinks is just one factor that affects the possible blood alcohol content and drunkenness.

There is a widespread belief that alcohol shots are stronger than beer, and they will get you drunk faster. However, that is not necessarily true. So, let’s see how many beers equal a shot.

Shot vs. Beer Volume

If you drink beer, you have multiple choices regarding packaging and size. You can drink it from a can, bottle, or order a pint. Typically, both can and bottle have 12 ounces (354 ml) volumes, while a standard American pint contains 16 ounces (473 ml).

Still, there are many variations, depending on the region, brand, and beer type. On the other hand, a standard alcohol shot in the US has 1.48 ounces (44 ml) of volume.  However, shots volume is twice as much in some countries, while it can be significantly lower in others than in the US.

Variations in shot volume



0.67 ounces (20 ml)


0.84 ounces (25 ml)

1.01 ounces (30 ml)


1.35 ounces (40 ml)

1.48 ounces (44 ml)


1.69 ounces (50 ml)

2.02 ounces (60 ml)

An average 12 ounces (354 ml) beer differs from a shot by calories number, as well. A regular beer has 149 calories, and a light one 110. An average alcohol shot has around 65 calories, depending on the alcohol type.

Alcohol Content

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All alcoholic drinks contain the same alcohol, ethanol. However, their content drastically varies in beer and hard beverages like vodka, tequila, and rum. According to American Dietary Guidelines for 2015 to 2020, one alcoholic drink contains 0.6 ounces (17.7 ml) of pure alcohol.

Generally, domestic beer has between 5 and 8% ABV (alcohol by volume), while vodka containing 80 proof has 40% ABV. That means 12 ounces (354 ml) of 5% beer has 0.6 ounces (17.7 ml) pure ethanol alcohol. On the other hand, the vodka shot of 1.48 ounces (44 ml) contains 0.59 ounces (17.4 ml) alcohol.

This math clearly shows that one regular beer equals one shot when you compare alcohol content. Still, keep in mind that an ABV value can differ significantly, depending on the type of drink and brand.

For instance, there are craft beers with over 15% ABV and light lagers with 2 to 3%. The world’s strongest vodka has 96% ABV, so a drinking shot has 1.42 ounces (42 ml) ethanol. That makes it equal to 2.4 regular beers!

Various drinks ABV


ABV value
Absolut vodka


Bacardi vodka



Bud light

Old Knucklehead


Amstel light


Alcohol Types for Shots

You can have many drinks from a shot glass, including the most common alcohol types like vodka, rum, whiskey, absinthe, tequila, and gin. They can all be cocktail ingredients, or you can also drink them straight. The most famous shot cocktails are:

  • B-52
  • The Sangrita Shot
  • Gladiator
  • Grasshopper
  • Jelly Bean
  • Kamikaze

There are also some drinking rituals for certain shot types. For example, salt and lemon are common additions to tequila. Still, many people prefer a light beer like Corona with tequila.

Stronger beers, like porters and stouts, are often accompanied by a bourbon or whiskey shot. I find pickleback quite interesting. That term can mean a shot of pickle juice or a whiskey shot followed by a small glass of pickle brine.

Binge Drinking

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The main difference between drinking beer and shots is the time required for consumption. Although they have the same alcohol content, you can sip a beer for an hour while doing a shot takes merely a few seconds.

If you are at the party with friends, there is a chance you will take one after another in a short period. Consequently, you can get drunk quickly.

Most young people mistakenly believe that beer has less alcohol than strong drinks, so they don’t keep track of how many units they drink. Unfortunately, that often contributes to risky behavior like drunk driving and consequent severe injuries.

The average person’s body can break down 0.01 BAC (blood alcohol content) per hour. It is approximately about one drink per hour. If you take that one beer equals one shot, one drink per hour will leave you within the allowed BAC limits.

American Addiction Center states that drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion is considered binge drinking. This phenomenon is increasingly common among young people, who consume alcohol intending to get drunk quickly and intensely.

Taking a Shot with Beer

On occasions where you don’t want to choose between a beer and shot, you can take both. Make a bomb shot or a beer cocktail named the boilermaker. It comes as one of two variants.

Either you drop a whiskey shot in a beer or drink them separately. In that case, you use beer as a chaser, sipping it right after taking a shot. Remember that the term boilermaker in the UK refers to a mix of half-pint draft beer with a half-pint of brown ale.

If you drop a shot into a glass with beer, you will make a bomb shot. One of the most popular recipes is Flaming Dr. Pepper. Pour amaretto in a shot glass, add some rum on top, and set it on fire.

Immediately drop the flaming shot in a beer case. Keep in mind that this cocktail requires some speed and dexterity. It is better to order it from a professional bartender if you are new to cocktail preparation. There are also a few other well-known recipes, such as:

  • Deep Charge – It implies vodka shot in a pint of beer.
  • Irish Car Bomb – It is a mix of Irish whiskey and Irish cream in a half-pint of Guinness.
  • Sake Bomb – It is a sake shot in a beer.


A general rule of thumb is that one 12 ounces (354 ml) beer with 5% ABV equals one hard drink shot. Still, both beer and strong alcohol ABV value can vary depending on the type and brand. Be careful since drinking a shot takes less time than beer, and you can get drunk faster.

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4 thoughts on “How Many Beers Equal a Shot?”

  1. Don’t drink and drive dui in Maryland and get charged…now it’s automatically a interlock system..aka blow and go to start car….is required for six months…trust me I know and it was wa first driving offense and I’m 48.

  2. Great reading New Belgium Breweries. I enjoy your Fat Tire beer it challenges some of my other favorites. It’s totally different but it’s like I now have three beers in first place.
    The time of year and what I’m doing has a big impact on first place. So in view of this you’ll hopefully remain in first place with two other beers depending on the time of year, what I’m doing and the outdoors temperature.
    Now lastly, have you a bock beer?

    Respectfully, Ken Nelson


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