Beer bad

I was thinking about hangovers the other week – thinking, specifically, that I hadn’t had one in the last four or five years, and reminiscing with a gentle shudder about how horrendous it was the last time. It’s not about the headache, for me. When I look back on the last really bad hangover I had (and it was a belter – it lasted most of the next 24 hours) what I remember more than anything else is the anxiety. They say that Ecstasy basically gives your brain a serotonin binge, so that you use up the next day’s supply of happy-making chemicals all in one go; I don’t know what the comedown from that feels like, but I imagine it’s not a million miles from where I go to with a hangover. There’s endless anxiety – no reason to feel happy or relaxed about anything at all, but no capacity to stop thinking; there’s something like shivers and cold sweats, or rather a feeling that shivering and cold sweat might break out at any moment (they generally don’t, but the feeling that they’re about to can go on for hours); and there’s a weird feeling of being out of phase with the world, as if I’m permanently half an inch ahead of or behind where my body is, straining to catch up.

Yes, I had another one just the other day. Beer bad. Kids, just say… never mind.

What I’m wondering about is what, exactly, brought it on. Here’s my night out in miniature:

8.00  Arrive at The Gaslamp. Pint of Red Willow Heartless chocolate stout, which is 4.9% and costs £3.50.
8.30  No more cask – boo! 500 ml bottle of Brightside Maverick IPA, which is 4.8% and costs £4.50. Ouch. Decide to make ’em last from now on.
9.30  Cask back on – hurrah! Pint of Brightside Dark Side stout, 4.6% and £3.40.
10.30 Maybe just a little one before I go… 330 ml bottle of Ticketybrew Pale Ale, 5.5% and a very ouchy £4.60.
12.00 Home: coffee, toast, pint of water.
1.00  Bed.

I can think of a number of suspects. The hangover could have been brought on by the following, in roughly ascending order of probability:

  1. Sheer, unbridled, physical revulsion at having had to pay £16 for four drinks.
  2. Having what basically amounts to a four-pint session.
  3. The Belgian yeast in the Ticketybrew.
  4. Having a four-pint session on top of a half at lunchtime.
  5. The booze plus a late finish making for a short and unsettled night.
  6. Having a four-pint session on top of three-pint sessions the previous two days.
  7. The two pints of stout.

I think we can rule out the first four. (I include the Belgian yeast because I was sick as a dog once after a work do at Mash and Air, where I’d finished the evening with one of their own ‘abbey-style’ brews – very yeasty, that was. But if that beer did disagree with me it was sorely provoked, by the large rich meal I’d just eaten as well as all the other beers I’d had earlier.)

The last three all seem plausible, but at the moment I’m leaning towards 7. I don’t entirely trust stout (even Toby’s); I find one pint is usually enough, for me at least. But what do you think? Have you got a love-hate relationship with stout, or any other style of beer? Are there any hangover triggers that you’ve learnt to avoid – or at least learnt to regret in the morning?



  1. pubcurmudgeon
    Posted 27 November, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    It’s certainly often said that dark beers (and other dark alcoholic drinks) are more hangover-inducing because of the greater amount of “congeners” they contain. My subjective feeling is that there’s some truth in this and, while I’ll have the odd one, I tend to steer clear of whole sessions on dark beers.

    I can also back up your comments about anxiety. If I drink outside my “comfort zone” for a couple of days running (which isn’t very often) I do find myself with a distinct feeling of unease that only slowly passes, even if I don’t really have the classic hangover symptoms of headache and nausea.

  2. Posted 27 November, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    For me it would be the bottled beers. Four 500ml bottles of 5% beers will always make me feel worse the next day than four pints of 5% cask beers. I drink a lot of dark beers and I’ve never noticed a difference to be honest.

  3. Posted 27 November, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Tring’s Colley’s Dog… I think it tastes great, but I know if I have a couple – perhaps even one – I’ll feel pain in my head next morning. Tested several times… always the same result :( It’s a strong deep red beer @ about 5.2% – strength isn’t the thing, I can drink a few pints of their Death or Glory and feel fine the next day.

    Cask Infra Red from Hardknott seemed to have a similar effect – although I have had very little chance to test. This is also a strong deep red beer… so I’ve wondered if it was a specific malt issue.

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