When I was in college, beer still flowed fairly freely and the social environment all throughout campus mainly revolved around drinking. Not surprisingly some interesting concepts were born, such as exploding fish, the drop squad, and one unit of measure I still use today: the Bud Point.

What is a Bud Point, you say? It’s a unit of measure for beer. Budweiser is typically served in a 12 ounce bottle or can, and is an even 5% ABV. Therefore, one 12oz Bud = 1 Bud Point.

Why write about Bud Points? I’m glad you asked! Given I’d changed direction from quantity of beer (a la college) to quality of beer, I like having a way of measuring my intake. All beer is not created equal, and some craft brews can really pack a wallop!

Sure, I can take a rough measure of consumption, and do so especially when out. One Worldwide Stout is more than enough to score a DUI. But coming from a geek school and having geek tendencies, I need to know exactly what I’m either in for or what I did to myself on a given previous night.

So 1 Bud Point (BP) is one Busweiser. 2 BPs is the typical limit before you hit DUI candidacy. 6 BP is commonly seen as a “good evening”.

To calculate the BP value of your beer, multiply the %ABV value (not the percentage itself) by the volume and then divide by 60 (which is 1 BP, or 12 oz multiplied by 5, dropping the fact that it’s a %). It’s basic math, though a calculator might come in handy for volumes and %ABVs involving decimals.

To illustrate, let’s use the Trappist Ale tasting I blogged about previously. The bottles weigh in as follows:

- Chimay Cinq Cents: 25.4 fl oz, 8% ABV
- Chimay Primiere: 25.4 fl oz, 7% ABV
- Westmalle Dubbel: 11.2 fl oz, 7% ABV
- Westmalle Tripel: 11.2 fl oz, 9.5% ABV

Now, without even doing the conversion you can tell this is a lot of beer. Yes, there are two larger bottles that are about the size of two normal bottles each, and two slightly smaller than normal bottles of beer. At quick glance, you’d assume I had 6 beers, which for most is a “good night”.

Let’s do the math:

- Chimay Cinq Cents: 25.4 x 8 = 203.2 / 60 = 3.39 BP
- Chimay Primiere: 25.4 x 7 = 177.8 / 60 = 2.96 BP
- Westmalle Dubbel: 11.2 x 7 = 78.4 / 60 = 1.31 BP
- Westmalle Tripel: 11.2 x 9.5 = 106.4 / 60 = 1.77 BP

Add them up and you have: 3.39 + 2.96 + 1.31 + 1.77 = 9.43 Bud Points, or less that 3 beers shy of a 12-pack, for four bottles of beer. As you would expect, I participated in the tasting from the safety of my own house.

You can use this simple gauge with any alcoholic beverage, though once you start adding ice it gets a bit tricky. The old equality of measure guidelines still work. A shot of vodka (1.5 oz at 40% ABV) is 1 Bud Point per the math. Wine is about the same for a 4-6 oz glass depending on the wine itself.

If you do the math, you can paint a clearer mental image of how much you’re actually drinking.

So, next time you’re out, or in, enjoying a few good brews, do the math and see what you’re drinking. The results may surprise you.