Alcoholic Beverages- What do I need to know

BEER, wine, and whiskey are doubtless familiar to you as the names of common alcoholic beverages. But just what do these beverages have in common? How are they produced? And why is it that some persons are affected more adversely than others by the same quantity of alcoholic drinks? Around the world, people have different opinions about alcohol. Some enjoy sharing an occasional drink with friends. Others choose not to drink at all. Furthermore, some individuals consume alcohol to the extent of becoming intoxicated.

The question of whether to consume alcoholic beverages is a matter of personal choice. However, it is important to be well-informed about the potential consequences of alcohol consumption.

” Alcohol is a powerful substance,” notes the World Book Encyclopaedia. Therefore, there might be situations or moments when even limited alcohol consumption isn’t advisable, like Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, or during pregnancy. From very remote times men have been making and drinking alcoholic beverages.

Different types of Alcoholic Beverages

About 33% of all humans currently drink alcohol. In 2018, among Americans, 86% of adults had consumed alcohol at some point, with 70% drinking it in the last year.  Usually, alcoholic beverages are categorized into three main classes: beers, wines, and spirits.


Beer is among the earliest forms of alcoholic beverages globally and enjoys the broadest popularity. It is the third most popular drink. Beer is a beverage fermented from grain mash. Beer is commonly crafted from barley or a combination of various grains, and it acquires its distinct flavor from hops. The fermentation process naturally imbues most beers with carbonation. If the fermented mash is subjected to distillation, it transforms into a spirit.


Wine, a popular alcoholic beverage, is primarily crafted from the fermentation of grapes. During this process, yeast metabolizes the grape sugars, converting them into ethanol and carbon dioxide, with the added benefit of generating heat. This transformation leads to an alcohol content ranging from 9% to 16% ABV (alcohol by volume). The unique characteristics and styles of wine are influenced significantly by the grape varieties and yeast strains used. These factors often dictate the specific regions where certain grape varieties can be grown and establish essential guidelines for wine production. Additionally, wines can also be produced through the fermentation of various other fruit crops, such as plums, cherries, pomegranates, blueberries, currants, and elderberries.


Distillation is the defining factor that distinguishes spirits from non-distilled alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and others. Alcoholic drinks can be broadly categorized into two groups: those that are fermented without undergoing distillation and those that are fermented and then distilled. Fermented beverages that are not distilled include beer, hard cider, mead, sake, and wine. In contrast, alcohol that is both fermented and distilled includes brandy, gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey.

Effects on the User

A person’s unusual behavior after consuming alcohol is typically linked to the volume of alcohol absorbed into their bloodstream. Given that a significant amount of blood flows through the brain, alcohol can have a concentrated effect there. This is why even moderate consumption can reduce the central nervous system.

The concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream isn’t solely determined by the quantity and strength of the drinks consumed. The liver can process only a limited amount of alcohol at a time, typically about one standard drink per hour. When more alcohol is consumed than the liver can metabolize, the excess alcohol accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to a rise in blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The BAC level is a measure of the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream and is used to determine their level of intoxication. Factors such as body weight, gender, and the type of alcoholic beverage consumed can also influence how quickly alcohol is metabolized and eliminated from the body.

The body can only process a limited amount of alcohol each hour, so it’s crucial to ensure that the alcohol concentration in the bloodstream doesn’t reach harmful levels. If one opts to drink, it’s wise to do so moderately. Drinking slowly can help decrease the speed at which alcohol is taken in, allowing the body ample time to metabolize and eliminate it before it accumulates to hazardous levels in the bloodstream.

Research indicates that alcoholic beverages containing alcohol levels ranging from 10 to 35 percent are absorbed into the bloodstream more rapidly. This suggests that individuals who consume high-alcohol-content drinks like whiskey and then subsequently consume lower-alcohol-content beverages like beer may create a stomach mixture that is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. Consequently, this combination can result in a more significant and pronounced effect on the individual compared to consuming whiskey alone.

Remember Dangers

Getting drunk isn’t the only way to encounter issues related to alcohol. A pamphlet published by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse emphasizes that when someone consumes a drink, the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive system and quickly affects the brain. It starts to reduce the functioning of the brain areas responsible for reasoning and emotions, resulting in a decreased sense of inhibition and increased freedom.

Throughout history, the misuse of alcoholic beverages has presented challenges, but the twentieth century introduced new risks. Notably, the widespread use of chemical additives in the production of alcoholic drinks has added complexity to the issue. People who consume alcoholic beverages are increasingly aware of the risks associated with excessive drinking and the importance of being cautious. Ultimately, the decision to consume alcohol, in what quantity, or whether to abstain altogether remains a personal choice.

Making Wise Decisions About Alcohol

Before drinking alcohol, consider:

Is it advisable for me to drink alcohol, or should I abstain?

Recommendation: Individuals unable to control their alcohol intake should abstain from drinking.

How much should I drink?

Recommendation: Determine your limit before alcohol distorts your judgment.

When will I drink?

Recommendations: Avoid consumption before operating a vehicle or participating in activities that demand full attention.

Refrain from drinking before engaging in religious practices.

Abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

Exercise caution when consuming alcohol alongside specific medications.

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