“Beer before liquor makes you sicker, liquor before beer and you’re in the clear” was a saying that was hammered into my mind by my friend’s older sister before I was old enough to even think about any type of alcoholic beverage. Now it has become a sort of fact that has always been stuck in my brain, but I wanted to know if there was any truth to the saying that seemed so wise in my little brain so many years ago.
First I wanted to establish a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis means that you administer the research and you discover that nothing is going on. In this scenario the null hypothesis would show that beer before liquor has no effect on making you sicker than if you just drank one, or if you drank the liquor before the beer. If the research shows that something is in fact going on, then they are able to reject the null hypothesis. Obviously that is the goal, because scientists rarely want to investigate an instance where nothing is going on. People tend to think that you can drink beer after drinking hard alcohol with less consequences because beer has less alcohol content. I read one account from someone named Kyle Brubaker, but it seemed to be a more anecdotal piece of data. Brubaker talks about how your liver can process approximately one drink an hour, and any extra alcohol flows through your blood freely. When you drink more than one shot, your liver is hit harder than if you were to have a couple beers, and so It takes longer for your liver to detox that alcohol. However, Brubaker starts his claim with words like personally, which make it seem like his data may not be completely accurate.
The experts seem to have a different opinion than Brubaker. Dr. Keri Peterson attempts to debunk this myth in this article. Dr. Peterson explains that the order is less important than the total amount of alcohol you drink. If you drink ten shots in one night, it isn’t going to matter if you took the shots before you drink the beer, you’re going to be sick no matter what. She also adds that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which can cause you to drink more. If you start with the liquor, which has a higher percentage of alcohol, your inhibition is going to lower faster and you may find yourself drinking more.
While you may find Dr. Peterson’s facts convincing, it is hard to come to a solid conclusion to our hypothesis without any solid data. From what I have read, it would seem to me that the null hypothesis is correct, and that become ill from drinking has very little to do with the order in which you drink your beverages. However, if you want to continue to say the rhyme and drink that way, there isn’t a lot of hard evidence or threat of harm there to stop you.