# Alcoholic Drinks, Measures & Units. United Kingdom

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1 Alcoholic Drinks, Measures & Units in the United Kingdom Frank Tapson An account of the different sorts and sizes of measures used in connection with alcoholic drinks and the relationships between them Version.0 (00)

2 UK The main terms and words covered in these pages are units of alcohol alcohol by volume (%AbV) proof calories pints litres L centilitres cl millilitres ml The definitions used for all calculations are pint = ml (millilitres) unit of alcohol = 0 ml of ethanol 00% proof = 57.06% alcohol by volume and so this document is valid only in the UK. Compared with USA where definitions needed would be pint = ml (millilitres) unit of alcohol = 7.7 ml of ethanol 00% proof = 50% alcohol by volume The accuracy to which any particular figure, or set of figures, is given is that which is considered to best fit the context. A much fuller account of all this, together with details of the measures used in other countries, and a set of on-screen calculators to handle all the calculations can be found on the Web at Frank Tapson 00

3 UK Index Introduction and basic facts Units of alcohol, table of values showing content for Volumes ml and 0 %AbV 5 Units of alcohol, graphs showing content for Volumes ml and 0 6 %AbV 6 Volumes ml and 0 6 %AbV 7 Volumes ml and 6 0 %AbV 8 Volumes ml and 6 0 %AbV 9 Proof and %AbV conversion scales 0 Units and Calories conversion scales Pocket Guide &

4 UK Introduction and Basic Facts There is now a considerable body of opinion supporting the view that alcohol, in 'reasonable' amounts, can be of benefit to the health and general well-being of the human body. But the big question is, what is 'reasonable'? Which, in turn, makes one ponder on how it can best be measured? It was easy for scientific people to devise their own ways, but their methods were not exactly simple. And it needed to be user-friendly to convey messages about alcohol consumption, and its effects on health, to the general public. It was thoughts like these in the late 970's and early 80's which led to the idea of creating a unit of alcohol. From hereon we refer to this simply as a Unit. The advice then offered is For sensible drinking consumption of alcohol in one week should not exceed 8 Units for men Units for women, and in any single drinking session the consumption should not exceed Units for men Units for women. In addition, it is also recommended that at least one day of the week should be alcohol-free. Obviously, for this to be of any use at all, we need to know what a Unit is. First of all, we should be clear that it is not just a matter of how big the drink is, but only how much alcohol it contains. For instance, most people would probably accept without question the fact that one-eighth of a pint of whiskey can contain as much alcohol as a whole pint of beer. So we need to know the strength of the drink. Fortunately, all alcoholic drinks now carry on their container a statement showing how much alcohol they contain, given as a percentage of the volume of the liquid. This is usually written in the form 5 %AbV (short for 5 percent Alcohol by Volume), which would mean (in this case) that 5% (about one-sixth) of the volume was pure alcohol. Then we need only to know that 0 millilitres of alcohol = Unit, to be able to work out just how many Units there are in any volume of an alcoholic drink. Some idea of the variety and complexity of all this may be gained by looking at this set of results aimed at establishing a -Unit drink. Small glass (50 ml) of liquer (0 %AbV) contains Units Glass (75 ml) of white wine (.5 %AbV) contains Units Glass (00 ml) of sherry (0 %AbV) contains Units Half-pint (8 ml) of cider ( 7 %AbV) contains Units Pint (568 ml) of beer (.5 %AbV) contains Units The following pages of tables, graphs and scales, are intended to remove the need to do the actual arithmetic needed, and allow those interested merely to look up the number of Units to be found in any given quantity of alcoholic drink at any particular %AbV (within the range of normal usage). Some facts which will allow quick assessments to be made in certain situations are: pint beer (.5%) = Units pint beer (5%) = Units bottle (750 ml) white wine (%) = 9 Units (this covers Champagne) bottle (750 ml) red wine (5%) = Units A 750 ml bottle fills between & 6 glasses depending on their size. bottle (700 ml) spirits (0%) = 8 Units For guidance on doing a Personal Consumption Audit, go to the Web-site listed at the front and look at the Background Notes. Formulas If Volume = Volume of liquid measured in milliltres (ml) %AbV = Percentage of Alcohol by Volume in that liquid Units = Number of Units of Alcohol in that amount of that liquid. (where Unit contains 0 ml of ethanol) Then the following relationships are true: Units = Volume %AbV 000 Volume = Units 000 %AbV %AbV = Units 000 Volume

5 Units of Alcohol Table shows number of units of alcohol for a given volume and %AbV UK %Alcohol by Volume ~ %AbV Volume in millilitres ~ ml To use: find volume (in ml) at bottom of table and, from there, go straight up to level of %AbV shown on left of table and read off number of units at that point. Where no value is given, it may be estimated from those around. Figures printed in bold are exact. All others have been rounded to the nearest whole number. pint = 568 ml 5

6 UK Units for Volumes ml & AbV 0 6% For finding the number of units of alcohol in a volume of liquid whose %AbV is known. Beers and Ciders White Wines Red Wines % Alcohol by Volume AbV Unit 0 Units 9 Units 8 Units 7 Units 6 Units 5 Units Units Units Units Units 6 millilitres ml centilitres cl litres L pints ( gill) ( gills) ( gills) ( gills) (5 gills) fluid ounces Volume To use: First find two places: the required volume on one of the bottom scales and the %AbV on the side scale. Next go straight up and across respectively from these two places to meet at a point on the grid. From this point, go to the nearest red curve and read off the number of units. (Spoilt for choice? Take the higher number.)

7 Units for Volumes ml & AbV 0 6% UK 0 Units 9 Units Units Units Units 5 Units Units Units 8 Units 7 Units Unit Units Units Units 6 Units 5 Units 7 Units 9 Units 8 Units Units Units 0 Units % Alcohol by Volume AbV ml millilitres cl centilitres L litres pints Volume 7

8 UK Units for Volumes ml & AbV 6 0% For finding the number of units of alcohol in a volume of liquid whose %AbV is known. Sherries & Ports Spirits & Liquers % Alcohol by Volume AbV Units Units 6 Units 8 Units 0 Units Units Units 6 Units 8 Units 0 Units Units Units 6 Units 8 Units 8 Unit 6 8 millilitres ml centilitres cl litres L pints ( gill) ( gills) ( gills) ( gills) (5 gills) fluid ounces Volume

9 Units for Volumes ml & AbV 6 0% UK Units 5 Units 8 5 Units 50 Units 8 Units 6 6 Units Units Units 6 Units Units 0 Units 8 Units Units 0 Units 8 Units 6 Units % Alcohol by Volume AbV Units Units 0 Units 6 Units 8 Units 0 Units ml millilitres cl centilitres L litres pints Volume 9

10 UK Proof and %AbV Scales for converting between proof and %AbV %AbV Proof %AbV Proof The connection between %AbV and proof was defined by an Act of Parliament in 86 which in effect, but not in words, was equivalent to saying 00% proof = %AbV from which it follows that proof = %AbV %AbV = proof

11 Units and Calories Scales for converting between them UK Units Calories kj Alcohol is a fuel, just like petrol or coal but, unlike most fuels, alcohol is also digestible by the human body. This means that the energy in alcohol (in the form of carbon and hydrogen) is metabolized and taken into our system. It is easy to measure the amount of energy in the alcohol. It is a little over 55 Calories (or 0 kj) in a Unit (or in every 0 ml of alcohol) The scales on the right make it easy to see the number of Calories (or kilojoules) there are in any quantity of Units up to 0. Bigger numbers than that can easily be dealt with by addition or multiplication. However, it should be noted that we do not know if these calories count in the usual way towards our diet. Some research has reported that drinking in moderation (that is within the accepted guidelines) has no appreciable effect on body-mass. But that only applies to wine and spirits which have almost no calories other than what is in the alcohol. BEER, and similar drinks, are a different matter. In that case the beverage itself has a definite calorie content apart from that of the alcohol. Unfortunately, it is not a regular amount and so cannot be forecast, since it depends heavily on how the beer was made. Finding exactly what the calorie content is requires a full analysis of the actual beer. To give some idea of how much it can vary, one survey of over one hundred beers found between 0 and 90 Calories per 00 ml sample from each beer. That did include the calories from the alcohol which (by estimation) ranged from about 5 to 0 Calories. But there was no relationship between the alcohol content and the total calorie content of the beer

12 %Alcohol by Volume ~ %AbV ( - 0) To make: print (or copy) this and the following page back to back on a single sheet of paper or light card. As a check on alignment the positions of the two A s should match (to within mm. will do). Cut around the marked outer rectangle. Score along the three lines running across the rectangle. Crease and fold along these lines. The dashed lines should be hill folds, that is the line is on the outside of the fold. The plain lines should be valley folds, that is the line is on the inside of the fold. The whole thing, stood upright, and looked down on, should like the diagram on the right. A Frank Tapson 00 pint = 568 ml To use: find volume (in ml) at bottom of table and, from there, go straight up to level of %AbV shown on left of table and read off number of units at that point. Where no value is given, it may be estimated from those around. Figures printed in bold are exact. All others have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Volume in millilitres ~ ml A much fuller account of all this, together with details of the measures used in other countries, and a set of on-screen calculators to handle all the calculations can be found on the Web at The Pocket Guide to Units of Alcohol A handy table for estimating alcohol content (U K only) Table shows number of units of alcohol for a given volume and %AbV

13 Table shows number of units of alcohol for a given volume and %AbV The Pocket Guide to Units of Alcohol A handy table for estimating alcohol content (U K only) Volume in millilitres ~ ml For details about use and accuracy, see other side. A %Alcohol by Volume ~ %AbV (0-0)

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