Alcohol strength cannot be determined by color. Many people mistakenly believe that dark beer has a higher alcohol content compared to light beer. However, the truth is that the color of the beer has no correlation with its strength. The color of the beer is determined by the type and amount of grains used in its production. During the fermentation process, the sugar in the grains is converted into alcohol, so more grains result in a higher alcohol content.
There are several misconceptions that associate color with the weight of the beer. Some believe that darker beers are richer, higher in calories, while lighter beers are lighter-bodied, lower in alcohol, and have fewer calories. However, this assumption is not entirely accurate.
The color of beer is influenced by the malt content, not the malt color. Most of the residual fermentable sugars in craft beer come from malted and roasted malt. Different roasted malts produce various beer colors:
Light Roasted Malt:
Produces straw and golden beers with cookie flavors.
Medium Roasted Malt:
Produces amber and copper-colored beers with caramel and nutty flavors.
Dark Roasted Malt:
Produces brown and light dark beers with chocolate and coffee flavors.
Heaviest/Darkest Roast Malt:
Produces dark beer with burnt notes.
Most craft beers are made primarily from light malt, usually 75-100%, except for wheat beers. Specialty malts make up 5 to 15 percent of the beer, while dark or black malts account for around 1 to 5 percent of the entire beer. In short, the production of dark beer requires only small amounts of dark malt.
Colors can be deceiving. There are pale beers with a full body and high sugar content, just as there are dark beers with a light body and low sugar content. The key factor here is the beer’s ABV (alcohol by volume). What matters is that sugar and calories are directly related to alcohol content. In other words, the more alcohol in the beer, the more maltose is needed, resulting in a higher calorie content.
However, it’s important to note that not all dark beers have fewer calories than light beers, nor do they always have a lower ABV. It can be helpful to be familiar with different beer styles when choosing what to drink. This misconception is similar to the belief surrounding coffee. Many people think that darker roasts have more caffeine, but this is also incorrect. Dark roast coffee may have a darker color and a richer flavor, but in reality, the highest levels of caffeine are found in golden roasts because roasting the beans reduces caffeine levels.
We hope this information helps you when selecting a beer to drink and encourages you to explore new beer styles in the future.