It seems like all the rage on the internet for the past two days has been an article by Esquire Magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb. The article recounts a beer-drinking session in Manhattan with the author and Jim Koch, the mastermind behind the successful Samuel Adams Brewing Company. During the interview, Mr. Koch shares a secret with Mr. Goldfarb: how he (Koch) can drink a plethora of beers for tasting and conventions, without becoming rip-roaring drunk. The secret really is ingenious.
Mr. Koch says that he learned this trick from Joseph Owades, a master brewer in his own right, and a friend of Mr. Koch. The secret is…ready?…drinking yeast before drinking. Wait, what? Specifically, Koch dissolves some active dry yeast (as in the Fleischmann’s variety that you can find in any American grocery store) in some yogurt, and ingests it before a day of beer drinking. So how does this work? Well, apparently, this yeast includes an enzyme (ADH) that breaks down alcohol into carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. This is exactly what our livers do when we drink alcohol. The idea is that, if you have this enzyme (courtesy of the yeast) in your stomach already, then the alcohol begins to be broken down immediately. This means, according to Koch, that you become much much less drunk (although you still get a little buzz).
My first thought was, “Why would anyone want to mitigate drunkenness”? After all, when it comes to wine, beer, and spirits, we aficionados appreciate the flavors, aromas, and everything that accompanies these beverages. But if we are being honest, the intoxicating effect is certainly a big part of the experience. But then I realized that people like Mr. Koch must have to participate in beer tastings and beer conventions quite often, and so he must be expected to down one hell of alot of beer! So I can certainly understand why he would need this sort of solution to mitigate the effects of alcohol. But does it work?
I can say that, yes, it does. I obtained some dry yeast, dissolved it in yogurt, then sat down and drank several (I am too embarrassed to give you the specific number!) beers. And I can honestly say that there was a marked difference in the experience. Whereas this number of beers would have knocked me flat normally, after ingesting the yeast, I barely had a buzz. And while this was not a strictly scientific experiment, it certainly was enough to convince me. So, next time that you are in a situation where you simply must drink vast amounts of alcohol (like a formal Chinese banquet or a bachelor party), try this little trick, and you will be seen as the manly man of the night, who can hold his drink!