Gone are the days when the persona of the typical beer drinker was overweight, yellow, and went by the name “Homer Simpson.” Aside from exploring a diversity of great new flavors from craft breweries, there may be other benefits of beer consumption.
The modern craft movement has helped change beer culture as we know it, including imbibers’ attitudes towards well-being. A joint Harris Poll and Nielsen survey of nearly 2,000 drinking-age adults showed that craft beer fans consider themselves more health conscious than others. Even better, the science is there to back it up!
Today, Tavour looks at 7 surprising benefits of beer linked to moderate drinking:*
1. Beer Boosts Your Mood
Okay, we know you don’t need us to tell you that drinking beer can make you feel happier. But, it may interest you to know that the reason those Adroit Theory IPAs have you so smiley isn’t just because of the juicy flavors or limited status.
German researchers published a study in 2017 that showed beer works some chemical magic to make you feel joy. Did we say magic? We meant straight science — the malted barley in your beer contains the chemical hordenine which activates dopamine (the ‘happy’ chemical) in your brain.
2. Craft Beers Contain Actual Nutrients
Most craft beers contain soluble fiber and trace amounts of nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, sodium, soluble silicon, and copper. The hops, grains, and yeast also contain carbohydrates, which serve as your body’s main source of energy. It’s also worth noting that many of today’s beers like Drekker Brewing’s Braaaaaaaains series and The Brewing Projekt’s Smoofee Sours contain large amounts of real fruit.
Are we saying that the benefits of beer mean you can swap out real produce for a brew? No, but the point is that today’s craft options aren’t just the empty calories beer has long been thought to be.
3. Drinking Beer May Lower Your Risk of Kidney Stones
Researchers for the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology revealed another surprising benefit of beer — drinking it in moderation could help reduce your risk of developing kidney stones. Basically, stones can form from minerals and salts that are not disposed of properly by the kidneys. Coincidentally, many beers happen to be rich in phytochemicals, which promote kidney health and help them function as they should.
This is especially true for brews with higher amounts of hops, like IPAs. If really you want to go all in, opt for a super-hopped version like Kung Fu Karaoke (a collaboration between Kings County Brewers Collective and Marz Community Brewing). The brewers double dry-hopped it with five kinds of hops, and it’s only 5.5% ABV!
4. It Helps Reduce Stress
Kicking back with a beer has long been known to promote relaxation, but what you might not know is that multiple studies have been done since the 1940s to prove it. In 2016, Dutch researchers found that moderate beer consumption significantly reduced the levels of stress hormones (ACTH and cortisol) in the blood of people who had recently been exposed to mental stress. Specifically, one to two beers at a time promote what’s called “stress response dampening” – the reduction in the magnitude of our body’s reaction to stress factors.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should turn to drinking all the time to reduce stress. But, an occasionally stressful situation here and there could be improved with a beer!
5. The Aromas Can Give Your Brain a Boost
Turns out that actually drinking beer may not even be necessary to reap some of its benefits! A recent study of senior adults from the University of Melbourne showed that cognitive function was improved after they underwent “smell training,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Those who were exposed to a wider range of scents and focused on them demonstrated enhanced learning and memory.
Today’s craft beers come with complex, layered aromas. Look at Energy City’s Bistro Alfresco: Pink Guava, Pineapple & Lime. The brewers added three kinds of real fruit to the yeast and malts already in the recipe, so those who indulge in this Berliner Weisse may be able to note a whole spectrum of scents.
6. The Flavors May Help Cognitive Function Too
It’s not just beer’s aromas that could give your brain some extra juice. Hops contain an ingredient called Xanthohumol, a flavonoid shown to help slow down memory degradation. While research on this subject is ongoing, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that adults who engaged in moderate alcohol consumption showed increased cognitive function compared to those who did not.
By the way, if IPAs aren’t your thing, try a different “hopped” style like an India Pale Lager. Matchless Brewing’s Essential Beer is one such example, rounded out with two different kinds of hops.
7. Craft Beer Beats Out Other Alcohol Beverages on the Health Scale
No alcoholic beverage is totally healthy, but some are better for you than others. Luckily for craft beer aficionados, a study by California’s Polytechnic State University discovered that craft beer tends to be less pasteurized and contain fewer added sugars than other alcoholic beverages. It is also higher in Vitamin B3, as well as yeast and soluble fiber that can help lower your bad cholesterol levels.
Oh, and for all your friends who insist wine is better because of antioxidants, health researcher and physician Arthur Klatsky made this statement to NPR: “Beer has more nutrients, often more calories, B vitamins. It's more like a food [than wine or spirits].”
*A Note on Moderate Consumption
Of course, the health benefits of beer are canceled out if you drink too much. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends no more than one drink per day or seven per week for women and no more than twice that amount for men.
If you stay within these guidelines, however, you can feel good about cracking open that can.
Cheers to science!