I frequently hear stories about people drinking their favorite pilsener, and not liking the other brand because "they'll get a hangover when drinking that brand".

Is there a truth in this?


It's true that there are different types of hangovers.

However, those are mostly the result of differences in the impurities in the alcohol (that is, all the non-alcohol stuff that differentiates beer from wine from vodka). And for those differences, it's largely the difference between different types of liquor.

Beer is, compositionally, pretty much the same. There might be enough difference between a heavy chocolate stout and a hoppy IPA, but between different brands of lighter beers (like pilsners), there's unlikely to be a noticeable difference in hangovers barring a weird food allergy to a minor element of one pilsner vs another.

Some far more likely causes of your friends reporting worse hangovers for different brands of the same beer type are:

  • Different quantities between evenings. One evening you drank 10 Pilsner Urquells and the next you drink 8 Beck's. How well are you really counting at that point? If you think you had "about 9 beers" both nights, you might blame the worse hangover on Pilner Urquell.
  • Differences in alcohol level between brands. The difference between 3.8% and 4.2% adds up after a while.
  • Small sample size. Would you rely on a medical study of only 3 or 4 people? Probably not. Likewise, if your friend reports getting a bad hangover the last 3 or 4 times they drank Konig, it may just be a bit of coincidence, and they would have had a nasty hangover those nights regardless of what they drank.
  • Also: different price points, which can result in different consumption practices. Different levels of water consumption between different nights. Varied food consumption... Jan 24 '14 at 12:57

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