An alcohol beverage is simply any drink that contains more than a minimal amount of ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

Beer, wine, and spirits all start with a process called fermentation, which is the natural result of yeast digestion of the sugars found in ingredients like fruit, cereal grains, or other starches. Fermentation results in two substances: ethanol and carbon dioxide.

Although recipes vary, alcohol beverages are generally divided into three broad categories:

  • Beers, typically made with barley that is sprouted and roasted into malt (sometimes other grains are used or added), then cooked with water, fermented with yeast, and flavored with the flowers of the hops plant.
  • Wines, made from grapes and sometimes other fruits that are juiced and fermented.
  • Distilled spirits, made from grain, fruit, or other sugar sources that are fermented and then distilled in a heating and cooling process that concentrates the alcohol.