Boston Beer Company co-founder and chairman Jim Koch (you probably know him from countless Sam Adams commercials) recently sat down for an interview with Esquire. The whole thing is worth a read, as Koch leads an interesting life — the man carries both a Perfect Pint glass and a breathalyzer everywhere he goes — but the real gem is Koch’s tip on how to drink beer all night without getting drunk. (Wait, isn’t that the point– ah, nevermind.) Take it away, Jim:
“You wanna know my secret? How I can drink beer all night long and never get drunk? … Active yeast. Like you get at the grocery store.”
Koch told me that for years he has swallowed your standard Fleischmann’s dry yeast before he drinks, stirring the white powdery substance in with some yogurt to make it more palatable.
“One teaspoon per beer, right before you start drinking.”
Koch picked up the tip from craft beer legend Joseph “Dr. Joe” Owades, whom Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.” With a biochem PhD and an early job in fermentation sciences at Fleischmann’s, Owade was uniquely qualified in the realms of both fermentation and alcohol metabolism. Here’s the science behind his yeast-y antidote, which Owade used to patent an “unlimited drunkenness” product called Prequel shortly before his death:
What Owades knew was that active dry yeast has an enzyme in it called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH). Roughly put, ADH is able to break alcohol molecules down into their constituent parts of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Which is the same thing that happens when your body metabolizes alcohol in its liver. Owades realized if you also have that enzyme in your stomach when the alcohol first hits it, the ADH will begin breaking it down before it gets into your bloodstream and, thus, your brain.
All that adds up to an extreme mitigation of the effects of alcohol. So you can enjoy the taste of your brews on an enormous scale without worrying about blacking out and compounding the frustrations of another soul-crushing day with a life-worsening round of debauchery. Unless you’re into that.