Does Yeast Actually Prevent Drunkenness?

A few weeks ago, Sam Adams founder Jim Koch told Esquire that he swallows active dry yeast before a night out, in order to avoid getting drunk. The claim has since sparked a series of debates regarding whether it actually works. Kevin Liu at Serious Eats did some extensive research on the science of alcohol metabolism to find out. 

Liu points to an enzyme called Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) that lives in our stomachs and livers. The enzyme processes alcohol, and “protects us from small amounts of toxins that might occur in fermented foods.” The active dry yeast strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains the ADH enzyme that can break down ethanol, so Koch’s method has some scientific basis to it. 

Liu conducts an experiment, but concludes it isn’t very practical; it wouldn’t help with hangover nor Asian glow. The only helpful application of consuming dry yeast Liu sees is for the super-lightweights, “who like the taste of alcohol but [don’t] like getting sloppy drunk after a two sips of wine. Head over to Serious Eats for a full report. [Serious Eats] [Photo: Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski]