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Certain beers give me a crippling headache


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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

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  • 6 months later...

Unfiltered beers for me are the issue - I've found no Belgium beers no Weiss beers and now suffered a bad migraine after drinking a new to me IPA sure enough the Sweetwater Brewing IPA is unfiltered so going to check out all IPAs from now on

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Whatever happened to Chappie?



Anyway, sometimes the culprit is fusel alcohol(s) which are a result of fermenting too warm for the yeast strain. Breweries often ferment at higher temperatures than one would expect. Fusels will impart a ginger-beer bite but also can be masked in darker and heavier beers. If present enough, they will induce a crippling and lengthy headache. 


And fusels may just be a result of one batch gone ever so slightly awry- so to say it is any single beer/brewery may be a mistake. I would hope though that the brewer would detect it in QC but regrettably, they might release it anyway.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had my first unfiltered IPA on Sunday at a wonderful place in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  About an hour later, one of the worst headaches I've ever had, which is still giving me slight boomerang effects.  It was a 7% beer, but I split the one glass with the hubster and didn't feel anything but mildly happy afterwards...until the head started splitting.


Perhaps it is coincidence, but I'm not having another unfiltered beer.  Ever. 

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  • 1 month later...

Hello - I discovered this forum doing some google searches and wanted to chime in. I too get bad headaches from certain beers and other foods. These are not migraines but they last a couple days and it seems nothing can cure them.

After much research I believe it to be the substance Carrageenan that is added to some beers as a clarifying agent. Some consider Carrageenan a form of MSG, they both are derived from seaweed. Carrageenan is Red Seaweed, and MSG was first derived from another seaweed called Kombu. I also have a sensitivity to MSG which gives me a similar headache although milder and shorter. Since alcoholic drinks do not need an ingredient label you can't be certain. They also put MSG in beer to enhance the flavor, so it could be that as well, or both.

Carrageenan is not used in German beer which I have no problem with except for German Kolsch beer which ferments the yeast a different way and may produce free glutamic acid which simulates the effects of MSG.

Carrageenan is also used in lab animals to create inflammation and grow tumors and cancer so that new anti-imflammatories and anti-cancer drugs can be tested (Nice!) It is also used as a De-icer for airplanes. They also use it as a thickener in some kinds of ice cream, almond milk, soy milk, cottage cheese, whipped cream, etc. They inject it in some packaged deli meats.

Unfortunately in 2012 the USDA Organic Council voted by a one vote margin to allow Carrageenan to be used in foods that are certified Organic.

It seems that only a small percentage of people develop these headaches from Carrageenan - none of my friends or family do.

Edited by gno2 (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 years later...

I am a beer guy. I love all kinds of beer.  I have had beers from all around the world.  I have had the same thing happen to me. The headache laid me up for 24 hrs.  I was told by a brewmaster that certain enzymes react with certain people to cause this.  Old Speckled Hen did this to me. The brewer told me to take a spoonful of sugar before you drink to stop this. I guess sugar neutralizes the enzyme.  I can see why people think this a migraine headache. It really hurts.

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  • 3 months later...

Interesting! I had a pint of something in New York that really laid me low the next day. Just recently I drank a bottle of Ruddles (which I never normally touch) and a bottle of Guinness Indian Porter and next day, killer head ache which didn't shift with neurophen and paracetamol.  It's so bad it makes you feel sick and you can barely move. Not like a 'normal' hangover, which by comparison is a walk in the park!


I just thought I'd google it, as you do, an here I am... I'm not alone!


I am sure there is some additive or something in certain beers that I react to.


I'm going to try a bottle of those two again and see what happens.


I drink quite a few porters and Guinness Original without any issues, so my money is on the Ruddles.

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