Does Beer Before Liquor Actually Make You Sicker?

Health Information Lifestyle

Q: I’ve heard this phrase for years: “Beer before liquor, never been sicker.” But is it true?

They’re familiar mantras of college students or anyone eager to avoid a hangover: “Beer before liquor, never been sicker”; “Grape or grain, but never the twain”; “Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine.”

People have long been trying to “game” their drinking patterns in order to ease the ache in the morning. But while many swear that these sayings hold up, the evidence behind them is murky, experts say.

Few studies have looked into whether there’s any truth to these statements, in part because such research is expensive, challenging and time-consuming to execute, said Dr. Kai O. Hensel, a researcher at Helios University Hospital Wuppertal in Germany.

But in one of the most rigorous studies to date, published in 2019, Dr. Hensel and his colleagues set out to do just that.

They recruited 90 students between the ages of 19 and 40 from a university in Germany and split them into three groups. On day one, the first group drank a 5 percent alcohol Pilsner (provided by the Carlsberg beer company) until their breath alcohol concentration reached 0.05 percent, then they drank an 11 percent alcohol white wine until their breath alcohol concentration reached 0.11 percent.

The second group did the same, but in the opposite order. And people in the third group were instructed to drink either only beer or only wine as a control.

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