One homebrewing topic that doesn’t get enough attention is over-consumption. Sure, we like to savor our beer, but having five gallons worth of it on hand makes it pretty tempting to imbibe more than we should. If for no other reason, avoiding a toxic hangover is reason enough to moderate how much beer we drink.
Without getting preachy, if you’re someone who wants to reduce your alcohol intake – and avoid the homebrew hangover that comes with it – you might consider some of these options:
- Brew lower gravity beers – “Session” beers – those with 4.5-5% or less alcohol by volume – are all the rage these days. It seems that consumers are more interested in enjoying a refreshing beverage over the course of a few hours, as opposed to getting the most ABV bang for your buck. You might consider keeping at least one session beer in the rotation on a regular basis. Some good options include a mild, summer ale, or English bitter.
- Drink from a keg – One of the advantages of a draft system is that you can pour as much or as little as you’d like. Want more than one beer but less than two? Easy! Draft systems are great for limiting your daily consumption (but it’s just as tempting to overdo it, so be careful!).
- Mix a shandy – Planning a long drinking session? Stretch your beer out further by blending it with something non-alcoholic, like ginger beer or soda. It sounds weird, I know, but they can actually be really refreshing and be an enjoyable way to avoid the homebrew hangover. Check out Shandy is Dandy for some shandy mixing recommendations.
- Avoid fusel alcohols – This point has more to do with the quality of the alcohol than the quantity. Fusel alcohols, or higher alcohols as they’re sometimes called, are often responsible for splitting headaches. By keeping your fermentation temperature under control, you can limit fusel alcohol production and at least some of the headache that comes with a hangover. Reducing fusel alcohols will have the adding benefit of reducing solvent-like off-flavors in your beer.
- Drink with food and water – Keeping hydrated is key to avoiding a homebrew hangover. If drinking at a hot homebrew festival or similar event, aim for a 1:1 ratio of beer to water (for every beer you try, drink an equal amount of water). And be sure to get some food in your stomach – just the break from drinking can be enough to keep things under control.
- Eat yogurt and dry yeast? You might have seen a recent news article about Jim Koch of Boston Beer Co. having a “secret remedy” that allows him to drink all day without getting drunk. I’m not sure about the validity of this method, but it’s worth a try, right?
What strategies do you use to keep from avoiding a homebrew hangover? Share in the comments below…
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.
Interesting article featuring Jim Koch and the mitigating effects of consuming dry yeast before alcohol consumption. As a homebrewers I bottle condition all my beers and consume the yeast slurry, especially with my wheats. Will this yeast consumption also mitigate the effects of alcohol? Thank you for a such informative writing.
Joe, the spent yeast in your bottles of homebrew do not have the same qualities as described in the article and are not known to get in the way of drunkenness. You’ll have to go with Freshman’s yeast.