Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Certain beers give me a crippling headache


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 chappie

chappie
  • participating member
  • 705 posts
  • Location:Cambridge, MD

Posted 16 January 2009 - 09:46 AM

Over the years I've been no stranger to drinking. From sipping favorite rums to enjoying a bottle of wine to draining cheap beers past sunrise. I have an internal guage for quantity-based hangovers.

But for quite some time I've noticed that certain beers -- almost always minimally processed, hoppy or malty microbrews -- will give me a crippling headache after just one or two. I believe, not certain, that occasionally a red wine will produce this effect also.

The latest culprit was two bottles of Rogue Mocha Porter consumed at a trivia contest Wednesday. I left the coffeehouse at 10, and by 11:30 I was in agony. The headache lasted until the following evening. Years ago it was Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout.

I need to start writing down beers that do this to me and see if there's a common denominator. Has anyone else experienced this? Is it an allergy to a certain strain of yeast, malt or excessive hops?

#2 mtigges

mtigges
  • participating member
  • 482 posts

Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:02 AM

Over the years I've been no stranger to drinking. From sipping favorite rums to enjoying a bottle of wine to draining cheap beers past sunrise. I have an internal guage for quantity-based hangovers.

But for quite some time I've noticed that certain beers -- almost always minimally processed, hoppy or malty microbrews -- will give me a crippling headache after just one or two. I believe, not certain, that occasionally a red wine will produce this effect also.

The latest culprit was two bottles of Rogue Mocha Porter consumed at a trivia contest Wednesday. I left the coffeehouse at 10, and by 11:30 I was in agony. The headache lasted until the following evening. Years ago it was Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout.

I need to start writing down beers that do this to me and see if there's a common denominator. Has anyone else experienced this? Is it an allergy to a certain strain of yeast, malt or excessive hops?

View Post


Stouts and Porters aren't hoppy, so while hops may be sufficient they're clearly not necessary for your reaction.

The only thing generally common to microbrews that is not common with industrial beers is filtering. Most microbrews are not filtered, they rely solely on gravity and time to clear the beers. What they are clearing is protein. They will add a coagulent which causes the proteins to mass in to clumps which drop more quickly out leaving clear beer.

Industrial breweries don't have the luxury of time (not that microbrews have that much time either), so they will filter their beers. The difference here is that filtering will also strip the yeast.

So ... it could be that you have an allergy to yeast.

As an experiment, I would try some brewers yeast as a dietary supplement, see if it causes a similar reaction. Although, it should be noted that dietary supplementary brewers yeast is not active yeast like you'll find in a fresh unfiltered beer.

Do you know if you have an issue with B vitamins in general?

If you're sure it happens with hoppy beers too (like IPA's) I wouldn't suspect malt or hops. But if it only happens with stouts/porters and the like, I would suspect roasted malts. Go on a binge with Rogue's Brutal Bitter and report back ;)

Mark.

#3 Katie Meadow

Katie Meadow
  • participating member
  • 1,344 posts
  • Location:Bay Area / East Bay

Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:05 AM

Most people who get headaches from red wine are having an allergic reaction to histamines and tannins. There are histamines in beer as well. You could also be allergic to sulfites. You made me curious since I react to histamines as well. I agree that keeping a beer and headache diary would be a good idea--especially if going on a bender is your way of doing the research. Otherwise you will looking in the recycling the next morning and trying to figure out which bottle was the culprit.

http://www.livingwit...jj08drinks.html

http://cdavies.wordp...beer-allergies/

Edited by Katie Meadow, 16 January 2009 - 10:09 AM.


#4 chappie

chappie
  • participating member
  • 705 posts
  • Location:Cambridge, MD

Posted 16 January 2009 - 01:58 PM

I'm a large guy with a proportionally respectable tolerance. I think the point is, I feel worse after just a tiny bit of certain beverages than, for instance, drinking an entire bottle of rum through the course of a night. It's not the hangover headache; it's something worse, and it lasts almost 24 hours.

I'll try to brewer's yeast experiment. I handle Guinness and other more processed stouts fine, even some porters. It's really certain, specific beers that do this to me (and perhaps wines?), and I've just never written them down except for the fact I remembered Anderson's stout and also come to think of it Wolaver's Organic Brown Ale. That stuff made me almost ill.

Plenty of other microbrews are perfectly fine with me.

Histamines. That's interesting because Wednesday night/Thursday morning I was also congested.

#5 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,254 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 16 January 2009 - 02:21 PM

It seems histamines may indeed be your culprit.

This link has a discussion of some of the science underpinning its action.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#6 Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth
  • participating member
  • 131 posts

Posted 16 January 2009 - 02:31 PM

Beer's a pretty well established migraine trigger and your description is pretty classic for a migraine. It's not totally clear, but it's probably due to an amino acid called tyramine.

In the future, most larger brewery beers have less tyramine (due to force carbination as mentioned in an earlier post), and bottled beers tend to have less than beer in kegs.

Bad news is there are some other foods (cheeze, salami) that you may find you have a hard time with as well.

You might want to go see a neurologist and get some meds for the next time you get the headache. Sorry about the headaches, they can be pretty nasty.

#7 chappie

chappie
  • participating member
  • 705 posts
  • Location:Cambridge, MD

Posted 16 January 2009 - 04:33 PM

While these are indeed bad headaches, and I do have a good threshold for pain, having known people who experience migraines I'm pretty certain these aren't them. Migraines are debilitating and living hell; these are just semi-immobilizing and suck.

Salami and cheese are absolutely fine; never once had a problem.

I will do some experimenting.

#8 chappie

chappie
  • participating member
  • 705 posts
  • Location:Cambridge, MD

Posted 16 January 2009 - 04:43 PM

It seems histamines may indeed be your culprit.

This link has a discussion of some of the science underpinning its action.

View Post


Perhaps. But "Other food high in histamine include chocolate, cheese, fish, hard cured meat (salami) and pickled cabbage."

I eat the hell out of all cheeses, chocolate, fish and pickled cabbage (kimchi in this case, both homemade and store-bought) to no similar effect.

#9 budrichard

budrichard
  • participating member
  • 1,710 posts

Posted 20 January 2009 - 08:03 AM

You could spend a lot of time and possibly money trying to find out the reason for your headaches but its simpler to:
"If it hurts, don't do it". -Dick

#10 Rich Pawlak

Rich Pawlak
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,872 posts
  • Location:Lawrenceville, NJ

Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:18 PM

I was told that A-B puts an additive in their beer to make the foam white, and that that additive causes many folks to suffer a headache. I do know that all A-B products give me a crippling headache, and I have thankfully avoided them for years now

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"


#11 chappie

chappie
  • participating member
  • 705 posts
  • Location:Cambridge, MD

Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:59 PM

Budweiser doesn't do this to me. Tonight I'm going to have a couple of Old Dominion Oak Barrell Stouts, which are in the category of beers that have murdered me before. I'll report back.

#12 shantytownbrown

shantytownbrown
  • participating member
  • 122 posts

Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:20 AM

I experience migraines, and some alchoholic beverages are triggers for me, and some do not. Alcohol itself is a well known trigger, but why some and not others for me is still a mystery.

e.g. Guiness, from a certain pub I used to frequent, and served from their tap, used to do it, tho I have had Guiness at other places multiple times without effect. Second, I drink Single malt scotches, and for some reason, Balveinie Double wood, which never used to bother me, started giving me migraines every time i drank it.

Now, listen carefully. No recurrent headache should be fooled around with. There are many likely benign causes of headaches, but their diagnosis should be left up to your doctor, and your doctor alone, not this or any other internet board or internet website.

Please go see your doctor, make sure there is nothing else triggering these, there are a lot of unasked and unanswered questions regarding the nature of these (your) headaches that your DOCTOR must sort though.

I cannot emphasize this enough.
sincerely
shanty

#13 andiesenji

andiesenji
  • society donor
  • 9,414 posts
  • Location:Southern California

Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:41 AM

I have never had migraines and rarely have headaches - can't even recall the last one, probably two or three years ago.
However I do get severe and debilitating headaches from chocolate, along with chills and weakness and this is only from full fat chocolate. Cocoa does not have the same effect (I only use Dutch process cocoa).
The allergist I saw back when I first began having these symptoms, (about 20 years ago) thought it might be related to my severe alcohol allergy but the few tests caused such severe symptoms that they were discontinued and I was cautioned to avoid it entirely. Less than 1/10th of an ounce was enough to trigger the reaction.
Unlike migraines, the headaches were on both sides of my head, right behind my eyebrows and felt like I had spikes driven into both temples.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#14 Smithy

Smithy
  • host
  • 3,993 posts
  • Location:North Shore of Lake Superior

Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:24 AM

I feel your pain. Literally.

As near as I can tell, ONE HALF BOTTLE of red beer (Killian's Irish Red, for an example that comes to mind readily) will give me the blinding headache you describe, for 12 - 24 hours. I no longer try to drink red beer.

I have the same experience from certain red wines, and I'd give a lot to know in advance which ones do it so I don't have to take the experimental approach. I can (and do) drink zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, pinto noir and a number of other hefty red wines with no trouble. ONE SMALL GLASS of Rosemount Diamond Label shiraz will give me a terrible headache all the next day, even if I've restrained myself to water for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately I discovered this after we'd bought a case of it.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown


#15 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:24 AM

[...]

The only thing generally common to microbrews that is not common with industrial beers is filtering.  Most microbrews are not filtered, they rely solely on gravity and time to clear the beers.  What they are clearing is protein.  They will add a coagulent which causes the proteins to mass in to clumps which drop more quickly out leaving clear beer.

Industrial breweries don't have the luxury of time (not that microbrews have that much time either), so they will filter their beers.  The difference here is that filtering will also strip the yeast.
[...]

View Post

In my experience touring small and mid-size breweries, I have found few that bottle and don't at least do diatomaceous filtering.

I know of one local tap and cask only brewery that just fines their beers. There are a couple really small ones that I suspect don't even do that.

But once you get to the size of Anchor Brewing, I believe most breweries will both filter and flash pasteurize before bottling.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#16 shantytownbrown

shantytownbrown
  • participating member
  • 122 posts

Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:35 AM

I have never had migraines and rarely have headaches - can't even recall the last one, probably two or three years ago. 

...

Unlike migraines, the headaches were on both sides of my head, right behind my eyebrows and felt like I had spikes driven into both temples.

View Post


not to make this a medical thread, but migraines can (atypically) occur bilaterally (both sides), the description of "spikes" or "ice pics" is classic description of migraine and few other headache types.

alcohol, chocolate, red wines some strong cheeses are well described migraine triggers...

but enough of that...

No one can or should take or give medical advice in these forums, and certainly self diagnose by comparing your symptoms to others..

I again cannot emphasize enough to se your Healthcare provider-MD (or PA or NP) to confirm the diagnosis...

sincerly

shanty

#17 towynlin

towynlin
  • participating member
  • 1 posts

Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:18 PM

I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to chime in with my similar experience. Last night I had one draft pint of Odell IPA with a burger and fries. I was in agony all night and most of today. The headache is still dully present.

Like the original poster, my headaches are caused usually by beer, but also rarely by wine. It is a small percentage of the beer and wine that I drink that causes this. If it were more common I would probably stop drinking altogether, but it's quite rare. I would LOVE to be able to avoid these headaches.

One notable thing is that I've never found any pain medicine that has any effect on these headaches. I am also fairly certain mine are not migraines, because, for example, they do not cause any visual effects. As far as placement, my headaches are usually behind my eyes, sometimes more one side than the other, but last night's was centered / behind both. If anyone can point me to any resources about this I'd appreciate it, and I am thinking that I'll mention it to my doctor next time I have a physical.

Like chappie I have never had any problem with chocolate, cheese, or cured meats.

The Wikipedia page for tyramine mentions research finding that certain neurotransmitters and neuromodulators including tyramine and others are found in elevated levels during migraines and cluster headaches, but that doesn't mean the chemical was ingested.

#18 radtek

radtek
  • participating member
  • 291 posts
  • Location:San Antonio, Texas

Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:54 PM

I wonder what happened to dear poor old chappie? He never reported back...

#19 hyjekr

hyjekr
  • participating member
  • 2 posts

Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

Hi All.

I'd like to see this thread revived since I had had the same problem with beer. Wine too. Very bad headaches that last about 24 hours with the pain centered over my right eye(where I can feel a blood vessal throb). I can get these from 1 beer.

I've been doing some tests over the last few months with me as the guinea pig. At first I thought I had it solved when I drank sports drinks before, during, and after drinking beer, but my body seemed to try to flush out the problem faster than I could replenish the water and electrolytes. I then tried taking Benadryl before drinking which helped 60 to 75% of time. I now think it's a combination of things where my body is trying to flush out the histamines from the beer. I do have the same reactions to some foods, but only sporadically.

So, here's my list of observations.

Beer and pizza seem to work well together. I don't get headaches if I drink a sports drink during the beer drinking. I have read that the fat in the pizza ingredients slows down the absorbtion of the alcohol.

Benadryl works most of the time to stop the problem if taken beforehand.

I'm going to try a natural herb formula to create more diamine oxidase. I have read that this enzyme resides in the small intestine and consumes histamines.

The following foods can increase the diamine oxidase in the body;

1) chamomile,
2) saffron,
3) anise,
4) fennel,
5) caraway,
6) licorice,
7) cardamom and
8) black seed.


I'm waiting for the supplement to come in the mail. Any thoughts anybody?

#20 Will

Will
  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:41 PM

I get it sometimes, esp. from certain Asian beers. It may be psychosomatic or totally unrelated, but I've been paranoid since hearing about formaldehyde that's added and / or naturally occurring.

http://www.urbanmyth...de-in-beer.html

Of course, most microbrews are fairly high-alcohol, and it is also worth just making sure to stay well hydrated while drinking - a lesson that I learned in college, but have since managed to unlearn. I think getting older may also be a factor. (FWIW, foods high in tyramine do sometimes also seem to be headache triggers for me).

#21 andiesenji

andiesenji
  • society donor
  • 9,414 posts
  • Location:Southern California

Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:05 PM

Last year my physician sent me to a new endocrinologist for a consultation about my diabetes and a couple of chronic conditions.
When I related my experience with chocolate and the (to me) incidental fact that I have no THC receptors (legalizing marijuana holds no joy for me), he mentioned that he knew of another person with similar symptoms and extensive testing had revealed hypersensitivity to a combination of phenylethylamine and anandamide which are attracted to the same receptors in the brain as THC. Because the receptors are inactive or absent, people like me get an overload of stimulation in other receptors that precipitate pain.
He went into more detail but most of it went over my head. He did say that with cocoa, the alkalized or "Dutch" process, inactivated these compounds which is why I don't get the same symptoms.

I don't think mine is psychosomatic because the headaches have been triggered when I ate something that I had no idea contained chocolate.
The worst episode was while I was still eating a bowl of chili - the cook had made it with a significant amount of chocolate. It was so severe someone else had to drive me home because I couldn't see well enough to drive at night.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#22 rod rock

rod rock
  • participating member
  • 292 posts

Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:21 AM

I was always wondering why i have headache when i drink one specific beer brand from my country, also i was thinking it is because they are putting too much chemicals in the beer.

"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."

 

Franchise Takeaway
 

 


#23 Baselerd

Baselerd
  • participating member
  • 460 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:35 AM

I think it's documented that some people react to certain alcohol-sugar combinations, maybe something to look into...

Taking Benadryl before drinking sounds like a surefire way to pass out quickly and fall into a deep slumber... lol

#24 Shannon Stoney

Shannon Stoney
  • new member
  • 1 posts

Posted 25 October 2014 - 09:02 AM

I've been noticing this same problem. I am not a big drinker, but when a nice pub opened in our small town, we started going there once a week to have a microbrew of some sort. Some of them give me absolutely terrible headaches that last 24 hours as described above.  I usually order a half pint, that is one cup, of beer. Not a lot!  And I don't feel the slightest bit tipsy. However, I have this awful headache. I wish I knew what was going on and what to avoid.

 

For the record, red wine does not have this effect on me, nor do bottled brews from large breweries.



#25 hyjekr

hyjekr
  • participating member
  • 2 posts

Posted 25 October 2014 - 10:18 AM

I've done some research and found a report of a nerve cluster over the eyes that has blood vessels close to it.   When the blood vessels dialate it puts pressure on the nerves causing pain.  I notice when I get the headaches I can feel the blood vessels pulsing on the top inside of my eye sockets.  Sometimes it's more prominent on one side & the pain is more severe on that side.  Ice packs help relieve some of the pain.  Here's a link to alcohol unduced headaches.

 

 

http://headaches.abo...d-Headaches.htm

 

 



#26 Smithy

Smithy
  • host
  • 3,993 posts
  • Location:North Shore of Lake Superior

Posted 25 October 2014 - 12:16 PM

Thanks for that link, hyjekr. It still doesn't answer the question some of us have about one particular beer or wine out of the multitudes causing such a horrific reaction, but it has good general information.

So far I've managed to avoid those splitting headaches by avoiding all red beer and all Australian shiraz. Who knows how many excellent and harmless quaffs I might be missing out on by painting with such a broad brush? I occasionally wonder, but unless I find a good predictor it just. isn't. worth. the risk. There are plenty of other good options available.

By the way, welcome back. :-)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown