Back to the topic at hand, calculating ABV is actually just a simple math problem: (Original Gravity – Final Gravity) x 131.25. Gravity is a measurement of a liquid’s density, the total amount of dissolved solids in the beer. These solids are of course sugars that can be converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This measurement can be taken with a number of tools including a refractometer, saccharometer, or hydrometer.
The Original Gravity (O.G.) reading is taken of the liquid before the addition of yeast. This measurement can give the brewer some valuable insight, such as the potential alcohol content. The more sugar solids present for the yeast to feast on = higher alcohol content. This Original Gravity reading also establishes a baseline to which the brewer can compare future measurements throughout the fermentation process for quality assurance purposes.
The Final Gravity (F.G.) measurement is taken obviously when the fermentation process is complete and the brew is ready for consumption. A low Final Gravity means a dry, crisp flavor while a higher Final Gravity means a sweeter, malty brew. Now that you have your O.G. and F.G. values, just do the math! Your ABV is the end result.
Did you learn something new? If so, here’s your homework. Next time you visit Stockholm’s, order a Voyage – five 4 ounce samples of our craft beer. Choose brews with varying ABVs, like Loki’s Pils 3.2%, Third Street Ale 5.5%, and G.P.A. 6.8%. Do you pick up on the nuances of flavors from one to another? How does a higher or lower alcohol content contribute to your tasting experience? We’d love to hear from you!