There are plenty of misconceptions related to beer style, color, and alcohol content. Strange Brew created a handy graph that helps make sense of it all.
OK, so maybe the graph is still a little confusing. For those unfamiliar with the acronyms, the vertical axis, IBU, is international bitterness units. That is exactly what you think it is. A high number means a beer is more bitter, and a low number means it’s not bitter at all. Bud Light is around 10 while a Sierra Nevada Torpedo is upwards of 80. The horizontal axis you probably all know, alcohol by volume. That’s how much booze is in the beer. SRM, which relates to the size of the bubbles, is the color. Bigger circles mean darker beers.
You can see a clear correlation between IBU and ABV. The more bitter the beer is, the more alcohol it typically contains. Obviously this isn’t true in all cases, but it works as a general rule of wrist. It gets more interesting chart if we just stick to is ABV based on SRM.
Many people assume that darker beers have more alcohol in them, and they’re wrong. This graph shows that there is almost no correlation between alcohol content and color. Sure, the imperial stout is sitting proudly as the darkest and one of the drunkest, but overall there is very little relationship.
If you want to toy around with the charts or look at the raw data, it’s all available as a Google Spreadsheet.