In an ongoing quest to Prove All The Things We Already Know To Be True, Science™ has just confirmed that a single sip of beer is all it takes to make our brains soar with sozzled joy. Really, Science? I could’ve told you that. I just did that science last night! And maybe a little at breakfast! And it’s possible I’m doing that science RIGHT NOW AS I’M TYPING.
My dismay at not getting a co-author credit aside, this is good news. The surge of dopamine that reminds me how much beer loves me gets triggered pre-intoxication, right when that heady, alchemical mix of barley, hops, and yeast hits my tongue. See? “Crippling alcoholism” has nothing to do with it, MOM! Here, I’ll let the science folks explain while I go get us (me) another cube of Keystone:
A group of researchers led by David Kareken [Ed. note: lucky!] of Indiana University came to the finding, published today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, by giving tiny amounts of beer to 49 adult men and tracking changes in their brain chemistry with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, which measures levels of various molecules in the brain. They chose participants with varying levels of typical alcohol consumption — from heavy drinkers to near-teetotalers — and even tested them with the beer they reported that they drank most frequently. Because they used an automated system to spray just 15 milliliters (about half an ounce) of beer on each participant’s tongue over the course of 15 minutes, they could be sure that any changes in brain chemistry wouldn’t be due to intoxication.
Interestingly, the amount of dopamine release per person wasn’t random. People who had a family history of alcoholism (as reported on a survey) showed notably higher dopamine levels after tasting beer as compared to others.
Family history of what? Didn’t hear you, bro — too busy icing Trey in this kegstand comp. Look, the takeaway is that we’ve answered one of the greatest mysteries of our time: “Tastes great.”
Now if you’ll excuse me:
Merely a Taste of Beer Can Trigger a Rush of Chemical Pleasure in the Brain, Smithsonian.