Beer vs. Vodka: What’s the Difference?

Beer vs. Vodka

The battle between beer and vodka is not as complicated as one might think. That is to say, there is only one victory-determining factor: the drinking experience. Now, the drinking experience is created by different aspects of the beverage. For instance, ingredients, brewing process, alcohol content, taste, and appearance.

The term “Vodka” gained its first-ever recognition by Grodzkie Akta in 1405.  Normally, it was used as a cleaning and medication compound. However, with time, it became a consumable beverage that was eventually taken to Russia from Poland by numerous merchants.

Beer was produced in Babylonia and Sumer way before 6000 BCE and was made purely from barley. Unlike vodka, it was intended to be a consumable beverage right from the start.

This article will go over the different aspects that combine to make the overall drinking experience and make it easier for you to determine the winner.

Ingredients Comparison of Beer vs. Vodka

When it comes to ingredients, this is the first bit where beer and vodka distinguish themselves from one another and become more than just an alcoholic beverage.

Firstly, grains and/or potatoes are distilled to make vodka. These two ingredients bring in the sugars that the yeast later converts into alcohol. Unlike beer, brewing vodka doesn’t require any malt grains; the most common ingredients used are:

  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Corn

As you can see, vodka exhibits more versatility in comparison to beer. During distillation, you can even utilize molasses, fruits, and table sugar as alternatives to grains or potatoes.

Now, coming to beer, it consists of four ingredients that can get you a nice beer quicker, and they are:

  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water
  • Malted grains

As for beer, malted grains are the source of sugar for yeast, and they initiate the process of conversion to alcohol. Hops, on the other hand, bring in the flavor while the water acts as a combining agent.

Brewing/Distillation Process Comparison

Starting with beer, there are several steps involved. In the beginning, you will need to crush the malted grains and soak them in hot water. This aids in breaking down starches present in the malt and converts them into fermentable sugars.

After that, the fermentable sugars gradually dissolve in the water to create a sweet liquid. You will then have to separate the clear liquid from the grains. This step is called lautering. Next, you will want to add the flavor by using hops and clear the liquid while letting the remaining mixture boil to get the flavor. Finally, separate the used hops and let it all cool.

When all of that is done, just add yeast to the remaining liquid, and fermentation will begin, which will take a few weeks to finish.

Now, on the other hand, making vodka involves distillation. Firstly, you use potatoes or grains by shredding and mixing them into water and creating a mash. Best practice includes adding amylase enzymes into the mixture only if you are not using wheat, rye, or crushed malted barley.

Allow the mixture to heat for around 2 hours, then strain the mash with a filter to separate your worth from the used-up grains or potatoes. After this, just add yeast to start fermentation, which will last about four to five days. When the period ends, just filter out the remainder of the sediments to acquire alcohol.

Here’s the distinguishing bit – up until now, no vodka has been made. Therefore, you will need to boil your alcohol and collect the vapor, which will be condensed. After the first few ounces, you will be able to collect vodka, which you can distill for multiple rounds to enhance the overall quality.

Alcohol Content Comparison

Beer and Vodka follow a different distillation/brewing process, and therefore, their alcohol content differs from one another. Typically, beer alcohol content ranges between 2 to 12% ABV. Note that this content also varies from one beer style to another.

On the other hand, vodka is comparatively stronger, and in the US, its alcohol content is approximately 37.5 – 40% ABV as the minimum.

Vodka has significantly greater alcohol content compared to an average beer.

Taste Comparison

Taste is king, and this is where beer might be able to give vodka a tough time, thanks to its versatility in taste. Beer allows you to extract various flavors from ingredients and the brewing procedure. The more you experiment, the more combinations you can devise for beer. 

Unfortunately, vodka is dry in terms of taste and loses in terms of flavor. This also makes vodka quite bitter and appears as an alcoholic beverage only suitable for getting intoxicated. On the other hand, beer can be sour, and fruity, and have many other flavors to make it a refreshing drink.

Appearance Comparison

As you can guess based on the ingredients, beer can come in a variety of colors ranging from golden to amber to black. Mostly, the color is dependent on the style, i.e., ale, lagers, and pilsners, to name a few. In addition, beers differ from one another in terms of clarity; you might be able to see through some, while others will be dark.

Vodka, on the other hand, is crystal clear and does not have any color. However, you can always modify vodka with different colorations to make it a bit more appealing. Nevertheless, unlike beer, vodka colors do not mean anything other than visual modification.


After comparing various aspects of the two, the battle of beer vs. vodka seems to be a never-ending one. There is no single winner, but only a preference by avid drinkers. As you can probably see, some people might even prefer one over the other solely based on one aspect, such as taste.

Nevertheless, learning the different aspects of the beverages can lead to a better understanding of what you are consuming and may slightly influence your preference regarding the benefits and risks carried by either.

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