The Main Ingredients of Beer

By Marty Nachel, Steve Ettlinger

What is beer exactly? By excruciatingly simple definition, beer is any fermented beverage made with a cereal grain. Specifically, beer is made from these four primary ingredients:

  • Grain (mostly malted barley but also other grains)

  • Hops (grown in many different varieties)

  • Yeast (responsible for fermentation; based on style-specific strains)

  • Water (accounts for up to 95 percent of beer’s content)

Grain provides five things to beer:

  • Color: The color of the grains used to make a beer directly affects the color of the beer itself.

  • Flavor: The flavor of the beer is primarily that of malted barley, although hops and yeast characteristics play a secondary role.

  • Maltose: Maltose is the term for the fermentable sugars derived from malted grain. Yeast converts these sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

  • Proteins: Proteins in the grain help form and hold the head (foam) on the beer.

  • Dextrins: Dextrins are the grain components that help create mouthfeel (the feeling of fullness or viscosity) in the beer.

Hops provide beer with four attributes:

  • Bitterness: Bitterness is essential to the flavor balance of the beer; it offsets the sweetness of the malt.

  • Flavor: Hops have flavor that’s distinctly different from bitterness, and it adds to the overall complexity of the beer.

  • Aroma: The piquant aroma of hops, which mirrors their flavor, is derived from essential oils in the hops.

  • Stability: Hops help provide the beer with stability and shelf life; their beta acids stave off bacterial contamination.

Brewers choose yeast strains based on which style of beer is being made. The two main classifications of beer yeast are

  • Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae): Top-fermenting

  • Lager yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum): Bottom-fermenting

The quality of brewing water is extremely important because beer is about 90 to 95 percent water. The mineral content of water can be manipulated and adjusted according to the requirements of the beer style being brewed.

Can You Hydrate Yourself With Beer?

August 9th by Glacier Design Systems, Inc. 0 0


There is nothing more satisfying than a nice, cold beer to quench your thirst after mowing the lawn or riding your bike. In ancient times, it was safer to drink beer than water, but the beer back then was much lower in alcohol. Most beers today are above 5% ABV, making them questionable in regard to hydration.

Beer is made up of water, barley, hops, and yeast. All of these natural ingredients are healthy sources of carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they also contain electrolytes and phyto-nutrients. The fermentation process also has a positive effect on these ingredients by promoting increased bioavailability and enzymatic activity. This essentially means that the brewing ingredients are changed to a form that makes them readily absorbed and usable by the body.

A study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology explored the hydrating quality of alcohol after exercise-induced dehydration. In the study, 2.2 liters of an alcohol-free beer, along with a 1, 2, and 4% ABV beer, were consumed across the study. The study suggests that beverages with low alcohol concentrations have “a negligible diuretic effect” when consumed in a state of exercise-induced dehydration, meaning that hydrating with water or a low-alcohol beer (~2% ABV) is effectively the same. They also found that a 4% ABV beer had the same hydrating qualities but just took longer to achieve the same results. That’s good news considering you won’t find too many 2% beers.

So the next time you’ve worked your way into a sweat, go ahead and grab yourself a cold session beer and hydrate yourself.

Water, the Lifeblood of Beer April 24, 2018

Water is, without question, among the most prolific and useful substances on the planet. It covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and makes up 75 percent of our body weight. The “universal solvent,” it is vital to all forms of life. Despite its prevalence, or perhaps because of it, water is often forgotten or simply taken for granted.

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It’s true also in beer brewing. Jamey Adams of Arches Brewing in Hapeville, Georgia, says that water comprises 90-95 percent of the actual beer we drink. Yet it is rarely discussed outside of the bowels of breweries and the feverish homebrew forums of the internet.

This may be because, despite its ubiquitous nature, water can be fairly complex. Plain water – pure, unadulterated H2O – rarely occurs naturally. Often water is littered with a medley of other compounds and microbes. This produces pH variances, alters reactivity and changes everything from color to taste.

So how do these immense variances occur and how does that affect the beer we drink?

(READ: Breweries Go Nuts Creating Nut Beers Beyond Peanut Butter)

Regional Beer Styles Tied to Water

Start with the history of beer development. Beer styles are often described in regional terms. There’s German-style lagers, Czech Pilsners, Irish stouts and Belgian-style beers. These are not the only beers to be found in these areas, but they tie back to style’s origin. They are usually stellar examples of that particular beer style.

Why does this happen? Why do the Irish make more stouts than the Germans? And why are the Germans known more for their lagers than the Irish? It is not like the brewers of these countries were unaware of other possible beer styles. So how did this dynamic develop? The water is the key.

John Palmer shows that assessments of Czech Republic beers found water that was low in mineral content – soft water. This water works best for producing beers such as lagers and pilsners. Ireland, with its mineral-laden hard water, found itself divining delectable stouts the likes of which could scarcely be produced anywhere outside the Emerald Isle. There are many examples of this, but the point is clear. Water is a really big deal, big enough to shape the history of beer.

So, why do these differences produce different beer flavors? It’s a matter of chemistry.

(READ: Winning a Medal at the Great American Beer Festival is All About Style)

Chemistry of Water in Beer Brewing

First, look at the kinds of things found in water that might contribute to beers flavors. In his book, “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” Charlie Papazian says the most crucial players are calcium, magnesium, sulfates, sodium, chloride and bicarbonate. That is quite a list, but this doesn’t even begin to cover all the components that you might find in water. There can also be trace amounts of microbes, fluoride, zinc and other compounds.

In “Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers“, John Palmer and Colin Kaminski state that among these elements and compounds, calcium is king. This mineral is responsible for helping with yeast flocculation and facilitating the mash process. Calcium reacts with phosphates in malted barley to lower the pH in a process known as buffering. This helps enhance the activity of crucial enzymes such as alpha-amylase as they go about extracting and breaking up sugars as a part of the mashing process.

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Bicarbonate, on the other hand, is a compound that serves the opposite purpose. It raises the pH (i.e. increasing alkalinity). It’s used in the brewing process as a kind of counter-balance, preventing things from becoming too acidic.

Magnesium is, in a way, the least essential. It’s needed only in small amounts, and those amounts are typically found in the grains used for the beer anyway. However, magnesium is still an important player in the mashing process.

The remaining elements and compounds are known as the “flavor ions.” They directly affect flavor of the beer, each in its own way. Sulfates accentuate hop characteristics, most notably bitterness. Chloride enhances the body and the maltiness of the beer. Sodium imparts its own flavors that are usually desirable in specific beer styles like the gose.

Finding a Perfect Balance

It’s worth noting the “Goldilocks principle” can come into play here. While all of these substances can enhance beer in desirable ways, you can quickly have too much of a good thing. High levels of sulfates will make the hop flavor astringent and distasteful, while chloride in mass quantity will give the beer a medicinal off-flavor.

All of these chemicals are measured and recorded in parts per million (ppm). Their concentrations are unique to nearly every community in the U.S. like a kind of hydraulic fingerprint. A community’s water quality report is usually available online (and if you live in Pennsylvania (like me) you can access your local communities water chemical assessment here.)

(LEARN: Discover 75+ Beer Styles)

Tinkering with Local Water Chemistry

All of this information leads to another question. If the water of a community is set, and certain beers work well with certain chemistries, how do brewers brew a wide range of styles rather than only brewing the beers that their local water sources allow? They do something that humans are extremely good at doing: tinkering.

Brewers use chemistry to change the composition of the water before using it. Additives such as gypsum, baking soda and just plain table salt will give you copious amounts of the crucial compounds. That is why full-scale breweries and homebrewers alike can use them.

To those alcoholic alchemists brewing at home, many experts like John Palmer, Colin Kaminski and Brad Primozic who is the head brewer at Insurrection Ale Works in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania, advise that the most important aspect of water for the homebrewer to focus on is the pH.

“You know that distinct ‘homebrew taste’ that homebrewed beer sometimes has? When you taste that, you know that pH was a bit off,” Brad says.

He says the ideal pH is between 5.2 and 5.5.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you put in the beer if your foundation is wrong.” Brad Primozic, Insurrection Ale Works

Going With the Flow

As intriguing as playing with water chemistries sounds, mother nature can also dabble with water chemistries herself. This can present a constant headache for brewers. Brad studied chemistry when he was in college and still uses that foundation to this day at Insurrection. He says that when the snow melts or when there’s been days of considerable rain, he has to watch the changes to the water table constantly.

(VISIT: Find a U.S. Brewery)

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you put in the beer if your foundation is wrong,” Brad says.

It is this laser-like attention to detail that truly makes some small breweries stand out.

From the broadest of aspects like the pH, to the smallest of details like the zinc concentration for yeast nutrition, water works as a complex but essential balancing act that every good brewer must perform. It may not always be straightforward and it may not always be easy, but it is fundamental to building an excellent beer.

About the Author:

Andrew Jockers

Andrew Jockers is a dental student in the real world, but he works for Voodoo Brewing Company as a bartender in their Homestead taproom to help maintain his sanity. He also works as an events representative for Voodoo in the Pittsburgh area, raises his newborn son with his beautiful wife and enjoys writing freelance when there’s a moment to breathe. In whatever spare time he doesn’t have, Andrew also loves music, homebrewing, rugby, hiking and rafting.

Read more by this author is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.


Dehydration is one of the major contributors to hangover symptoms. Alcoholic beverages may be refreshing to your taste buds, but they don’t provide the hydration your body needs ,and actually leach water from your system.

Anyone who has ever spent a night drinking can tell you that constant pee breaks go hand in hand with alcohol consumption. But what if an alcoholic drink CAN provide hydration? That’s a question being asked lately by everyone from fitness enthusiasts to historians.

The Dehydrating Effect of Alcohol

Almost every alcoholic beverage has water as its primary ingredient. The reason a bottle of wine or a fifth of vodka doesn’t hydrate you is due to alcohol’s functional effect as a diuretic or substance that causes you to pee. Ethanol, the specific name for “drinking” alcohol, suppresses your body’s production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone prevents you from literally “pissing away” all your body’s water stores.

So, the water intake you get from the typical alcoholic drink is outweighed by the water you lose due to the alcohol’s diuretic action. Proof of this is pretty easy to demonstrate: Drink three pints of water one night, three pints of beer the next, and see which sends you running to the bathroom faster.

Lessons from History

So is there a way for the hydration provided by an alcoholic beverage to be greater than that drink’s diuretic effect? Well, since some societies throughout history drank alcoholic beverages as their primary liquid intake, it stands to reason that the answer is yes.

For example, many Middle Age European civilizations didn’t have ready access to clean water. Since fermentation kills most waterborne pathogens, these people largely survived on weak wine and “small beer,” very low alcohol brews. Small beer was often made by diluting stronger ales with water. It was cheaper than regular beer and was even given to children. It contained about 2.5% or less alcohol by volume (ABV). In contrast, modern beers have around 4-5% ABV, with some high-gravity craft beers boasting over double that amount of alcohol.

A Beer after a Workout?

If humans can survive by mostly replacing their water intake with very low-alcohol content beverages, then is it a good idea to hydrate with weak beer after an intense workout? While common sense would say no, it may not be as bad an idea as you think.

Although beer doesn’t contain many electrolytes, which are vital when replacing lost water in our bodies, NPR has reported that a Canadian company has introduced a “post-workout beer.” With added antioxidants and electrolytes, this brew also has an extremely low ABV, just 0.5%. It’s being marketed as a sports hydration drink in the same vein as Gatorade.

So with a low enough alcohol content, an alcoholic beverage actually can provide at least some hydration effect. Of course, you’re not going to see this with liquor, even if you do take your scotch on the rocks. The next time you’re lost in the Mojave, it’s still probably a better idea to drink from your water bottle than your whiskey flask.

“Hair of the dog” is also a bad strategy for dealing with a hangover, no matter how weak the beer. Adding more alcohol to your hangover will not help you feel better. Instead, contact us for proven IV hydration therapy or even convenient in-room treatment with the medications you need to feel better fast.

8 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

Your body is roughly comprised of 60% water so it’s easy to see how vital it is to human survival. Every single cell in the human body needs water to function; however, we sometimes forget how important it is and let our bodies dip below the threshold of what constitutes healthy hydration. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and losing just 2% of your body’s precious H2O – the level resulting in mild dehydration – can mean the difference between a good day and a trip to the hospital for I.V. drip treatment.

There are some very surprising causes of dehydration. Chances are that one of these is causing you to be dehydrated right now and you may not even know it.

8 Causes of Dehydration

  1. You drank too much alcohol. Having a glass of red wine has been shown to benefit heart health. However, one glass of red wine often leads to 5 or 6 and before you know it you are partying like it’s 1969. I have been known to overindulge on occasion and have suffered the consequences the next day. Drinking too much alcohol can result in the dreaded hangover. And who likes a hangover? But even consuming relatively small amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration. Alcohol suppresses your body’s antidiuretic hormone that sends fluid back into your body while simultaneously acting as a diuretic, causing water to be flushed out of your system much more rapidly than normal. Although it may be fun, alcohol consumption can cause some serious dehydration so be sure to replace all the water you lose next time you’re out on the town.
  2. You worked out. Working out is an incredibly healthy activity that has more benefits than you can count on two sweaty hands. Getting a good workout in is one of the key ingredients to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. An hour long run, bike ride, or lifting session in the gym can cause your body to lose a great deal of its precious water and vital electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Your muscles are made of 75% water and need it to function properly. When you lose it via sweat, you can be at risk of mild to dehydration. An easy rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound you lose.
  3. You were up at high altitude. I grew up at high altitude in a rural town in Northern Nevada. As an athlete, I knew about the decreased oxygen levels in the atmosphere at high altitude and the beneficial implications of training there, but I never thought twice about the science behind it. When you go to high altitude, your body actually acclimates by speeding up your breathing and increasing urine output. These are both necessary adjustments for your body to make. However, constantly going to the bathroom and breathing harder – which forces you to exhale more water vapor – can cause dehydration. This winter when you head up to beautiful Aspen, CO for some skiing, be sure to take care of yourself in between runs down Ajax and rehydrate.
  4. You slept for 6 hours or more. Sleep is a key element of human survival. Our brains need rest in order to process and store thoughts from the previous day. Yet millions of people don’t get enough sleep and suffer the consequences. I am a huge advocate for getting plenty of zs and try to get as much shuteye as possible, even if that means taking a quick nap in the middle of the day. However, there is something about sleep that you probably didn’t know. While we are sleeping our bodies don’t receive any water. Going 6+ hours without any form of hydration causes dehydration. This is why you may wake up feeling parched in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Your body loses up to a pound of weight when you’re asleep, and the reason is pretty strange. You actually lose Carbon and vital H20 with every breath you take. So it’s important to replenish the lost water first thing in the morning. Drinking a glass of water right when you wake up is a perfect way to start your day and get back on track.
  5. You are on your period (ladies). That time of the month again? I can’t personally attest to this one, but there is a direct correlation between menstruation and dehydration. Estrogen and progesterone influence hydration levels in the body and when the two are fluctuating it can create serious problems. Another factor that leads to dehydration is the loss of actual blood, which depletes fluid levels. Replacing the lost water and electrolytes is especially important for women during this time of the month. Drink up, ladies!
  6. You are stressed. We all deal with stress on a daily basis. Some people are able to manage it better than others and keep their stress levels under control. For those of us stress-heads out there, managing our stress is much easier said than done. But surprisingly enough, keeping stress in check is crucial in order to maintain a healthy balance of hydration in our system. When you stress your body releases a stress hormone from your adrenal gland, which can exhaust the gland and result in adrenal insufficiency. The problem with this is that your adrenal gland is also responsible for regulating the level of your body’s fluids and electrolytes with the production of the aldosterone hormone. As the adrenal gland becomes more fatigued, it fails to produce aldosterone, resulting in dehydration. Moral of the story, try to stress less and drink more water.
  7. Aging. Growing old is a part of life. As much as we try to fight it with our anti-aging creams and rejuvenating spa therapies, aging is inevitable. As you get older, your body’s ability to conserve water and the sensation of thirst both decline. This combo makes it harder to know when you need more fluid and easier to become quickly dehydrated. As you age, it is imperative to be conscious of your fluid intake and be sure you are getting enough hydration on a daily basis, even when you don’t feel like you need it. Did you know about the important role that hydration plays in aging? Proper hydration is important for the protection of body tissue, healthy skin cells, and joint lubrication. It can make you both look and feel younger. You are going to grow old whether you like it or not, but you can do your best to fend it off with healthy hydration practices. Warning: Drinking too much water can actually be dangerous for the elderly so be cautious not to overindulge.
  8. Prescription Medications. I am personally not very knowledgeable on this subject, but my amateur research has led me to some intriguing discoveries. A long list of prescription meds acts as diuretics, increasing the amount of fluid your body excretes. One example of this is Adderall, a drug that is used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. Not only is Adderall a diuretic, but it also inhibits the production of saliva in the mouth, which affects your body’s overall hydration. Be sure to check the side effects of your prescription meds next time and up your fluid intake if necessary.

Drinking fluids and replacing electrolytes, such as the ones found in Liquid I.V., serves a wide range of purposes in our bodies such as removing waste through urine; controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Without water, the body begins to shut down and you can start to feel the consequences of severe dehydration. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, fatigue, anxiety, not being able to stay awake, fainting, rapid breathing, inability to stand or walk, and even loss of consciousness.

What’s the Least Dehydrating Alcohol?

Lumina Images / Getty Images

When you’re thirsty—or after you’ve gone for a run—you probably don’t reach for a beer, and you certainly don’t mix an Old Fashioned. Yet one domestic brewery hopes to alter that (if slightly) with a thirst-quenching beer that, admittedly, doesn’t go so far as to claim to actually hydrate you, which would go against all experiential wisdom about alcohol.

But the idea of a quenching, or perhaps even hydrating potable got us wondering, what boozy drinks could we sip to stay hydrated—or, more realistically, help us not get too dehydrated?

Turns out, some alcohols—and more accurately, how you drink them—can be less dehydrating that other booze-filled beverages. Here’s the scoop from our experts.

First, what is dehydration?

But how does alcohol actually cause those unpleasant symptoms? Alcohol—despite being a fluid—inhibits the release of vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone that rushes to our defense when our concentration of electrolytes rise above a certain level. “When there is no anti-diuretic hormone, the kidneys are not able to reabsorb extra fluid and the urine is much more dilute, which means you lose more fluid,” explains Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., and author of Three Steps to a Healthier You.

With each drink, we prevent vasopressin from doing its job. And to top it off, both Zeitlin and Rumsey explain, drinking alcohol will also make you urinate more often.

So, which alcohols are the most hydrating—or the least dehydrating?

The bad news: “When it comes to alcohol, no drink you choose will be hydrating,” says Zeitlin. But there’s still some good news, too. Some alcohols are less dehydrating than others. “Basically, the lower the alcohol content in your beverage—whether wine, beer, or liquor—the less of a diuretic it is,” Zeitlin says.

So consider this: the average beer has somewhere in the neighborhood of three to seven percent alcohol content in every 12-ounce serving, while a five-ounce glass of wine could have as much as 14 percent alcohol content. A single, one-and-a-half-ounce shot of liquor could contain up to a whopping 70 percent of alcohol content.

That makes beer the clear contender as the least dehydrating, with a big caveat. As important as alcohol content may be, even more important is how much you drink in a given sitting. Drink too many beers too quickly, and you’ll end up as dehydrated as you would taking a shot at the bar. “Drinking one beer over the course of a dinner will not increase your blood alcohol levels as much as if you drank four beers in the same time frame,” says Rumsey. So if you want to stay hydrated, slow down on beer.

What’s the most dehydrating alcohol?

Because a beer—consumed slowly—is the least dehydrating, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that liquor is always the most dehydrating alcohol. But that’s simply not the case. In fact, a mixed drink can be more hydrating (okay, okay, less dehydrating) than taking a shot. “Having a vodka soda, which has added water, may be less dehydrating than taking a shot of vodka because it will likely take you longer to drink the vodka soda—and the added water may help dampen the increase in blood alcohol levels,” Rumsey explains.

Wine lovers also need to pay attention. “If you drink four glasses of wine, you will be more dehydrated than if you stopped at one drink that had one-and-a-half ounces of vodka,” says Zeitlin. It’s a number game: the fewer boozy beverages you drink, the more hydrated you will be. (And adding ice to a mixed drink doesn’t hurt, either.)

A few last tips.

Beyond sticking to beer and sipping your beverage of choice slowly, you can take a few extra steps to increase your hydration. One is obvious: “To help stay hydrated while drinking, you can alternate alcohol and water,” advises Rumsey. “This will give you some extra fluids to replace any that you may lose, and it can slow down how fast the alcohol content reaches your blood.” You can also pour yourself smaller portions, Zeitlin suggests, which can trick you into thinking you’re having more drinks when you’re actually consuming less alcohol overall. Lastly, Rumsey advises, “pick beverages that can be sipped over time versus drinks that go down quickly like shots.”

So while we’d love to hear that the ice in our blended Frosé or the cranberry mixer with our vodka is negating the toll alcohol takes on our hydration, the real lesson here is that there’s no subtitute for just plain old water (and a little self-control).

Scientists suggest beer after a workout

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Beer. It is one of the most awesome things in life. This leads to a couple of important questions. One: how long can you survive on beer alone? Two: to what extent is beer a suitable replacement for water?

A couple years ago, Slate’s Jeremy Singer-Vine had a go at the first question. His answer? You’d live long enough to develop scurvy, but probably not much longer:

Not more than a few months, probably. That’s when the worst effects of scurvy and protein deficiency would kick in… If you kept to a strict beer diet—and swore off plain water altogether—you’d likely die of dehydration in a matter of days or weeks, depending on the strength and volume of beer consumed. There’s plenty of water in beer, of course, but the alcohol’s diuretic effect makes it a net negative in terms of hydration under most conditions.


One experiment, in particular, lends credence to the first half of Singer-Vine’s hypothesis: in the 1920s, researchers fed two Rhesus macaque monkeys with 200 milliliters of India pale ale per day, and some other foods lacking in vitamin C — within 2 months the monkeys were exhibiting symptoms of scurvy. But what about the second half? The part about dying of dehydration?

Turning Water into Beer – A Tale of Three Studies

This brings us to our second question of whether or not beer is a suitable replacement for water. Singer-Vine suggests the answer is no — but some recent experiments suggest otherwise.

The first is one you may have heard of — but it’s actually been widely misreported. Back in 2007, news outlets ran wild with reports that Spanish researchers had announced that beer does a better job of helping the body rehydrate after a workout than plain old water. Wrote The Telegraph, at the time:

Prof Garzon asked a group of students to do strenuous exercise in temperatures of around 40ºC (104ºF). Half were given a pint of beer, while the others received the same volume of water.

Prof Garzon, who announced the results at a press conference in Granada beneath a banner declaring “Beer, Sport, Health”, said the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better”.


Unfortunately, these news reports were total bunk. A little sleuthing on the part of Adventure Sports Journal’s Dick Peterman cleared the air (emphasis added):

It you actually go to Professor Garzon’s website at the University of Granada and look under his list of scientific publications, you won’t find this study because it was never published. There’s even a bigger problem with this. Professor Garzon actually denies beer has any better hydration effect than water.

“Regarding the information that you cite, it has been taken wrong by the journalists,” responded the professor in an email, where he helpfully supplied his 166-page unpublished study of beer and hydration written in Spanish. And by the way, he goes by the name of Professor Manuel Castillo, not Garzon. “What we found is that rehydration with beer with a 4-5% alcohol level in a moderate amount, 660 ml (a little more than a pint), is not better, not worse than rehydration with water.”


The second study (the largest to ever investigate beer’s benefits for athletes) was published in 2011 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and investigated the health effects polyphenols – aromatic compounds found in beer and widely credited with health-promoting and cancer preventative properties. The study concluded beer reduced post-workout inflammatory reaction; increased support for the immune system; and could even help stave off a cold. But there was one big caveat: the study was conducted using non-alcoholic beer as the test beverage.


Which brings us to the third study. Published in a 1996 issue of The Journal of Applied Physiology, “restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: effects of alcohol consumption,” actually matches up pretty well with Garzon’s Castillo’s findings.

As its name suggests, the study examined the effect of alcohol consumption on the restoration of fluid and electrolyte balance after exercise-induced dehydration. “Drinks containing 0, 1, 2, and 4% alcohol were consumed over 60 min beginning 30 min after the end of exercise,” write researchers Susan Shirreffs and Ronald Maughan, who conducted the study. “A different beverage was consumed in each of four trials.”


The volume of alcoholic beverage consumed was around 2.2 liters, equivalent to ~150% the body mass lost to exercise-induced dehydration. Some highlights from their findings:

  • The total volume of urine produced over the six hours following rehydration was not significantly different from trial to trial, though pee volume showed a tendency to increase as the quantity of alcohol ingested increased.
  • Peak urine flow rate occurred significantly later with the 4% beverage.
  • Increase in blood and plasma volume was slower when the 4% beverage was used to rehydrate, and — this is the important part — did not significantly increase blood or plasma levels significantly greater than the dehydrated level.


According to the researchers, these results indicate that beverages with low alcohol concentrations have “a negligible diuretic effect” when consumed in a state of exercise-induced dehydration. The researchers conclude that recovering from a state of dehydration is effectively the same whether you’re rehydrating with water, or a beverage containing up to 2% alcohol — though drinks containing 4% alcohol, they write, “tend to delay the recovery process.”


Of course, “delay” ≠ “prevent entirely,” so what the researchers are actually saying is: yes, you can rehydrate with a beverage containing roughly 4% alcohol; you’ll just recover more slowly than you would with a 2% brew in your hand. This is good news, as beers that are 2% ABV can be somewhat hard to come by. In the U.S., most reduced alcohol beers (aka “Light” beers, like Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite) come in at around 4.2% ABV, though there are some exceptions. Miller 64, for example, weighs in at 2.8% ABV, and Beck’s Premier Light at just 2.30% ABV.

At 2.10% ABV, Pearl Light (a beer we’ve never even heard of — probably because it’s produced in very low volumes and sold in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and, well, literally nowhere else — is one of the closest to the 2% ABV quoted by Shirreffs and Maughan. So is Windhoek Light (again: never heard of this before writing this post), which actually manages to come in right at 2.00% ABV.


Didn’t Egyptians Drink a lot of Beer? Were They Just Hammered Constantly?

Well… maybe. First, let’s put a thing or two in context. At percentages as low as those of Pearl Light and Windhoek Light, you’re well on your way to the land of what were once called “small” beers, so-called for their meager alcohol content. Small beers are thought to have been a drink of choice among Medieval Europeans and North American colonists alike. Commonly referred to as “porridge-like” in consistency, small beers were often unfiltered, and widely recognized for being hydrating and, to an extent, nourishing (with the added benefit of being more sanitary than water). In this way, small beer came to enjoy quite the following. Even George Washington was a fan — here’s one of his recipes, straight from pages of one of his notebooks.


The popularity of small beer hundreds of years ago inevitably raises questions about the consumption of beer in ancient Egypt, circa 1550-1070 BCE. Fans of Firefly may remember a scene from the episode “Jaynestown,” wherein Simon compares the local drink known as Mudder’s Milk (“all the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma’s best turkey dinner, plus fifteen percent alcohol,” according to Jayne) to the beer the ancient Egyptians fed to the slaves who built their pyramids. “Liquid bread,” says Simon. “Kept them from starving, and knocked them out at night, so they wouldn’t be inclined to insurrection.”


Were the Egyptians pumping their workforce full of 15% ABV beer? Maybe, but probably not while they were working. Truth be told, archaeologists really aren’t certain. Our knowledge of Egyptians and their libations is something of a mixed bag. On one hand, we know that beer was an inextricable aspect of Egyptian culture; in an article published in The Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists, University of Cambridge archaeologist Delwen Samuel characterizes it as a “staple food” important to all aspects of Egyptian life. Only recently, however, have the brewing processes of ancient Egypt come to light, and on this topic there is still significant disagreement:

Although it is often assumed that beer was made from barley, there is no real agreement on the meaning of inscriptions accompanying artistic depictions . Was beer made only with barley, or also with emmer , or with both as some scholars state? Were dates a standard ingredient, as hops are today? Were other flavorings used, and if so, what were they? Many lists of flavorings can be found in the literature, but their identification is not based on the direct evidence of material remains of the plants themselves.


Disagreements on ingredients and brewing methods aside, Samuel says one thing we do know is that beer was produced in different strengths. Given our discussion of beer, hydration and nutrition thus far, we think its reasonable to assume that any beer provided to working slaves would have come from the less-alcoholic side of the spectrum. Hammered workers, after all, make for wonky pyramids.

Of course, the real question is: if Mudder’s Milk were real, how long could you realistically survive on that before succumbing to liver disease? Unknown. Though a feasible, if pessimistic answer, would probably be: longer than the typical lifespan of a Mudder.


Top image and treadmill via

Drinking Beer Post-Run Gets the Hydration Stamp of Approval

Corbis Images

We all know there’s a right and wrong way to treat our body after a run. In the responsible category, we have hydrating, refueling, and stretching. But sometimes you’re squeezing in a quick three-miler before, say, meeting the girls for happy hour-which can easily induce guilt as you reach for a beer before your heart rate has even come down to rest. (Even though you’re scoring these 7 Healthy Reasons to Be Drinking Beer.)

Skip the guilt and grab a pint: Rehydrating with beer doesn’t actually compromise your body’s hydration, according to a new study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Spanish researchers had active guys run for just under an hour in a hot, humid room, causing them to sweat a ton and lose both water and electrolytes. In the next two hours, both groups were offered as much water as they wanted, but one also downed 22 ounces of beer (roughly two bottles). Surprisingly, researchers found that the beer-drinking group’s urine samples registered the same levels of rehydration as runners who hydrated more responsibly. (We suggest grabbing one of these 20 Bikini-Friendly Beers to keep your hard work from going to waste.)

Why was this surprising? Because alcohol is traditionally a diuretic (it’s one of the reasons you wake up with such a massive hangover when over-indulging). However, an older British study found that when athletes were dehydrated and given just a brewsky (no water), they stayed just as dehydrated as those who were just given non-alcoholic beer. That means that when your body is already dehydrated, the diuretic effect of alcohol is blunted, presumably because your body can’t afford to lose any more water.

That explains those dehydrated runners in the Spanish study-they didn’t stay dehydrated after loading up on lager because they also had access to water. That’s right-a pint won’t dehyrate your body further if you want to go on a post-run pub run, but you better have a beer in one hand, water in the other. Now that’s the kind of double fisting we can get behind.

  • By Rachael Schultz

Virtually every health-conscious person can quote the recommendation: Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Other beverages—coffee, tea, soda, beer, even orange juice—don’t count. Watermelon? Not a chance.
There’s no denying that water is good for you, but does everyone really need to drink 64 ounces or more every day? According to Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School who specialized in kidney research and spent 45 years studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, the answer is no.
Valtin says that for people who have specific health concerns, such as kidney stones or a tendency to develop urinary tract infections, drinking lots of water can be beneficial. But after an extensive search in 2002 for the origins of what is commonly referred to as the “8 x 8” guideline and a review of associated health claims, he reports finding no scientific evidence supporting the notion that healthy individuals need to consume large quantities of water. In 2008 Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb reviewed the evidence for the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. They came to a similar conclusion: “There is no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water.”
In fact, Valtin found that the 8 x 8 guideline may have originated from a misunderstanding. In 1945 the Food and Nutrition Board, now part of the National Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Medicine, suggested that a person consume one milliliter of water (about one fifth of a teaspoon) for each calorie of food. The math is pretty simple: A daily diet of around 1,900 calories would dictate the consumption of 1,900 milliliters of water, an amount remarkably close to 64 ounces. But many dieticians and other people failed to notice a critical point: namely, that much of the daily need for water could be met by the water content found in food.
The Board revisited the question of water consumption in 2004. Its panel on “dietary preference intakes for electrolytes and water” noted that women who appear adequately hydrated consume about 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water a day and men about 125 ounces (3.7 liters). These seemingly large quantities come from a variety of sources—including coffee, tea, milk, soda, juice, fruits, vegetables and other foods. Instead of recommending how much extra water a person should drink to maintain health, the panel simply concluded that “the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide.”

Advocates of the 8 x 8 guideline sometimes claim that thirst is a poor hydration indicator. They assert that many people are so chronically dehydrated they no longer recognize their bodies’ signals for water. Barbara Rolls, professor of nutrition sciences at the Pennsylvania State University, disagrees. Her studies, she says, “found no evidence that people are chronically dehydrated.” Although some drugs can cause problems with thirst regulation and the elderly may not experience thirst as intensely as younger people, Rolls maintains that most healthy people are adequately hydrated.
Weight loss is another benefit often touted by proponents of the 8 x 8 guideline. They claim people mistake thirst for hunger, which causes them to eat when they are really just thirsty. They also allege that drinking water suppresses appetite. Given the obesity crisis, every little bit (or drop) helps.
But Rolls disagrees, arguing that “drinking water and waiting for pounds to melt away does not work. We all wish it were that simple.” She explains that “hunger and thirst are controlled by separate systems in the body. People are unlikely to mistake thirst for hunger.” Furthermore, she reports that her studies “never found that drinking water with or before a meal affected appetite.” Nevertheless, there are some elements of truth in the misperception. Rolls did find that water-rich foods—as opposed to stand-alone water—tended to help people consume fewer calories. And, she says, “there is a way that water can help with weight loss—if you use water as a substitute for a caloric beverage.”
Neither Rolls nor Valtin opposes the idea of including water in a healthy diet. They both note that the body needs water to function properly and that dehydration hurts the body. They do object, however, to the notion that a universally true guideline governs ideal water consumption. “Water requirements depend so much on outside temperature, activity levels and other factors that there isn’t one rule that fits everybody,” Rolls says. And Valtin cautions that in some situations drinking too much water can actually be dangerous, even fatal.
So how much water should you drink? Here’s their advice: If you have specific medical concerns, talk to your doctor. But if you are healthy, Rolls recommends that you “have a beverage with meals and drink when you are thirsty.” In other words, heed your thirst signals, enjoy that watermelon, and stop feeling guilty for not guzzling those extra glasses.

At last, I no longer have to act ashamed whenever people discover my hydration bladder is full of Miller High Life—I’m simply ahead of my time. Our pal Science now says that beer, yes beer, is more effective for rehydrating the body than plain ol’ water. I think I’m not alone when I say that this qualifies as news on par with peace in the Middle East.

Researchers at Granada University in Spain found this Nobel Prize-worthy discovery after months of testing 25 student subjects, who were asked to run on a treadmill in grueling temps (104 degrees F) until they were as close to exhaustion as possible. Half were given water to drink, and the other half drank two pints of Spanish lager. Then the godly researchers measured their hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability.

They determined that the beer drinkers had “slightly better” rehydration effects, which researchers attribute to sugars, salts, and bubbles in beer enhancing the body’s ability to absorb water. The carbohydrates in beer also help refill calorie deficits.

Based on the results of the study, researchers recommend moderate consumption of beer as a part of athletes’ diets. “Moderate consumption” for men is 500ml per day, and for women is 250ml per day.

Goodbye Gatorade, hello Pabst Blue Ribbon: This opens the door to a whole raft of new athlete beer sponsorships. Hopefully we’ll see Lance replace the water bottle on his bike with a 40 of St. Ides in the next few months. (In fact, maybe that’s why he didn’t win the Giro d’Italia.)

This of course doesn’t mean anything for hydration outside of strenuous exercise, but I’m not taking any chances—best to start hydrating now.

—Ted Alvarez

It’s Better To Drink Beer After Exercise Than Water (Cleveland Leader)

via Goat

Image Credit: Archibald Jude

Beer Proven To Be Better Than Water For Hydrating After Workout

So after a regiment of leg blasters, pull ups, and core work, it’s hard not to indulge in a post workout brew-dogger. However, is drinking right after exercising smart? Of Course It Is!!!!!

Beer has electrolytes, calories, and carbohydrates. All these things are great for the post exercise body.

A study found that beer is “slightly better” than water at hydrating a human after intense exercise. Slightly better is really not that impressive, but, we’ll take it. Check out this article about beer being a good post exercise drink:

Even more interesting, is that scientists aren’t even arguing this one anymore: Men should have 2 drinks a day, women 1 drink a day. If this is done, you’ll actually live longer. Hell, this article even says that “consuming disturbingly large amounts of alcohol seems to be better than drinking none at all”:

It is also proven that as soon as you have more than the allocated amount of alcohol, you’re unequivocally hurting yourself and increasing your chances of disease and death. Check out this article about how alcohol consumption has been linked to mouth, larynx, breast, liver, and throat cancers:

So what is the moral here? I suppose this isn’t hard to figure out: Drink Up!…but not too much.

But, if you do here are some quality Hangover Cures…well, basically it’s just food, sleep, and H2O:

Your body is two-thirds water, so it is important to stay hydrated. You don’t have to just drink water, though. In fact, everything you drink contributes to your hydration levels to a greater or lesser degree. You even get water from the food you eat.

When you think of other beverages, however, you can’t just think of their hydration effect. Drinks other than water often contain calories, sugar, and/or caffeine. These things can impact on your health in other ways, such as contributing to weight gain, or damaging your teeth.

Water is the Best Choice

Water is undoubtedly the best drink for hydration. It contains no calories and doesn’t damage your teeth. Even if you exercise, water is probably all you need to maintain a healthy level of hydration. You only need to consider energy drinks or hydration drinks if you do particularly strenuous activity for long periods of time. Water is fine for normal 30 to 60 minute workouts.

Of course, not many of us drink only water. That leaves the question – using water as a baseline, how good are other drinks at hydrating you? Here are details of some of the most common types of drink:

Tea and Coffee

Caffeine has a diuretic effect so many people believe tea and coffee is dehydrating. In fact, it is about as good as water at hydrating you, but only if consumed at normal levels. A normal level of caffeine is below 300mg of caffeine a day, which is about three normal size cups of coffee. Pregnant women should only consume 200mg – about two cups.

Other Hot Drinks

Drinks like herbal teas and hot chocolate are also hydrating, but many are high in sugar and calories.


Research has found that milk (full fat and semi-skimmed) is very good at hydrating you. In fact, milk is better at hydrating you than water because it is retained in the body for longer. In addition, milk provides essential nutrients including calcium, protein, and B vitamins. There is a downside, though. Your body is able to retain milk for longer than water because of the high calorie content. It is, therefore, hydrating, but should be consumed in moderation because of the other potential impacts on your health.

Fruit Juice

Like milk, fruit juices, including smoothies, give you nutrients. They are also hydrating and, again, the hydration effect is better than water. This is because of the high calorie content but there is another problem with fruit juices that means you should control the level of consumption – they have a high sugar content.

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are hydrating, but many options contain high calories and high levels of sugar so can damage your health. You should moderate your consumption and opt for low and zero sugar options.

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol is one of the drinks that causes the most confusion when it comes to hydration. Firstly, alcoholic drinks contain water so they are hydrating. Drinks with high alcohol content, however, have increased diruetic effects so their impact on hydration is limited. Examples include spirits and wine.

As with the other options on this list, there are considerations other than hydration when considering alcoholic drinks. For example, many alcoholic drinks are high in calories and some are high in sugar, plus alcohol itself poses risks to your health.

The main reason that all drinks are hydrating is they all contain water. Full fat milk, for example, is 88 percent water. They can, therefore, be part of a moderated diet but with water at the centre of your hydration efforts.

Hydration Impact of Different Drinks*

Example: if user logs 100ml of water it will add 100ml towards your daily goal. If user logs 100ml of alcohol, it will add 50ml towards the daily hydration goal.

Drink Name Impact
Water 1
Tea 1
Coffee 0.9
Juice 1
Sports Drink 1.2
Energy Drink 1
Milk 1.2
Soda 1
Beer 0.9
Wine 0.8
Liquor 0.5

NOTE: although we did intensive research on this topic, always consider additional consultation with your health provider. WaterMinder is not a medical app and should not be used for medical purposes or to obtain specific hydration needs.

Does beer dehydrate you

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