1. Eating one teaspoon of yeast per beer before drinking could, apparently, stop you getting drunk. But is it actually true?
2. In an interview with Esquire, co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company Jim Koch claimed he uses the trick to drink beer all night without getting drunk.
He mixes active yeast with yoghurt (to make it more palatable) and takes one teaspoon for every beer right before he starts drinking.
3. Koch says that the yeast breaks down some of the alcohol in his stomach before his body can absorb it into his bloodstream. He told Esquire:
It will mitigate – not eliminate – but mitigate the effects of alcohol!
4. But not everyone is convinced. For starters, your stomach is much more acidic than the conditions yeast prefers.
6. And our internal body temperature is not ideal, either.
8. Yeast contains an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) that breaks down alcohol.
It’s ADH that breaks down alcohol in your liver, turning it into acetaldehyde – a toxic chemical that is probably what makes you feel terrible the next day. (Another enzyme then breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid, eventually freeing you from the hangover.)
The ADH in yeast is the most active form of ADH, but works in a similar way.
9. Koch inherited his trick from beer expert and biochemistry PhD Joseph Owades.
After his PhD, Owades worked in fermentation science and is credited with inventing light beer.
In 2001 he obtained a patent for a product containing active yeast that would “mediate the effects of alcohol consumption” if taken at the same time. He also claimed that the acetaldehyde produced when the yeast breaks down the alcohol is “almost instantaneously” turned into acetic acid.
But the product was never marketed, and Owades died in 2005 at the age of 86.
10. Esquire writer Adam Goldfarb claims the method worked for him when he tried it at home. But was that just the placebo effect?
In his patent, Owades describes a study with eight examples that appear to show the method works (at least on those eight people, anyway).
But a patent is not the same as a peer-reviewed scientific paper, and no other research into this method appears to exist.
The placebo effect can be partly to blame when you feel drunk anyway, so it’s conceivable that taking something you think will stop you getting drunk could counteract this.