Even those with the highest tolerances for alcohol will admit to a time or two where they had one too many drinks and lost their sense of judgment, causing them to stumble, yell, or even get into an alcohol-induced fight. Although we cannot go back in time and stop ourselves from becoming excessively drunk, we may be able to drink all night without getting drunk. Sam Adams founder and Boston Beer Chairman Jim Koch says he has a trick up his sleeve for not getting drunk: active dry yeast, yogurt, and of course, alcohol.
"You wanna know my secret? How I can drink beer all night long and never get drunk?" Koch told Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb in an interview. “Active yeast. Like you get at the grocery store.” Koch admitted for years he has swallowed the standard Fleischmann’s dry yeast before he drinks, stirring the substance in with some yogurt to make it more appetizing. Simply one teaspoon per beer right before you start drinking will make you almost invincible to getting drunk, which has kept Koch’s beer consumption in check.
The unusual and unpleasant taste trick has allowed Koch to drink a total of 21,000 beers in his lifetime, according to CNBC’s “Chew and Brew.” Although he is known for consuming a lot of beer, he is also known for his high alcohol tolerance. His secret for staying in control while drinking came from his good friend “Dr. Joe,” also known as the late Joseph Owades, a craft beer legend.
Owades knew about active dry yeast containing an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down alcohol into its constituent parts of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen — the same thing that happens when the body metabolizes alcohol in its liver. Dr. Joe came to the conclusion that if we have that enzyme in our stomach when we first drink alcohol, it will actively begin to break down before it gets in the bloodstream and our brain.
However, Koch cautions lovers of the bottle, arguing "it will mitigate — not eliminate — but mitigate the effects of alcohol!” The bizarre method does not eliminate the effects of drinking completely, as alcohol affects everyone differently, and it may not prevent someone from feeling drunk. This suggests there is no magic cure for inebriation.
If Koch’s trick does work, there could be some side effects to the consumption of active dry yeast. When ADH breaks down the alcohol, toxic byproducts are created, which is what causes us to feel a hangover the next morning after heavy drinking. ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde — one of the highly toxic byproducts that is known to be a carcinogen — says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is then further metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called acetate. This is then broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination. Consuming yeasts adds extra ADH into the body’s system and could therefore possibly lead to making your hangover worse, even if you stay sober.
While Koch’s claims raises several uncertainties, Goldfarb tried the trick and attested it worked just fine. “The older I get, the more of a lightweight I surely become, but after shoveling down six teaspoons and tilting back six bottles I felt nothing more than a little buzzed,” he wrote in Esquire. “Though I had no tangible ‘proof,’ besides the fact I was still awake, I was pretty sure I wasn’t all that drunk either.”
Whether you’re on the fence if it works or believe it’s scientifically implausible, you can try it at your own risk, but remember to always drink responsibly (with your yeast.)