The question is:

  • What are the qualitative and quantitative differences between inebriation caused by liquor wine and beer?

Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that the core difference between the three is that beer contains hops, while liquor/wine doesn't, and so beer tends to have a depressive + dis-inhibition effect, while liquor and wine provide the dis-inhibition effect without being an explicit depressant.

I wonder, though, has this ever been studied and concluded on? Are the differences that I mentioned above accurate? Are there any other differences?

  • 5
    I don't think anyone has done research on the type of inebriation but I have seen research on hangover types. Mythbusters did a comparison of beer vs. vodka hangovers years back. You should be able to find the video somewhere and it was night and day on the level of hangover. Vodka was much better. Alcohol is alcohol and while people may claim things like tequila makes you hallucinate or whatever, there is no scientific studies I've seen on the actual inebriation. It's pretty well known that the more "stuff" in your drink, the worse your hangover will be. Red wine has notoriously bad hangovers May 15 '17 at 19:05
  • I've been doing some searching myself and haven't turned much up either. I wonder if the beer/vodka comparison would hold up with whisky, and if there is a difference between quality of whiskies. Anecdotally, this would appear to be the case, but it'd be nice to see it quantified May 20 '17 at 23:39
  • Interesting question. I've heard that drinking rum (dark rum) can make certain people physically aggressive - what we'd call "punchy". I suspect it's just the higher alcohol by volume amount though.
    – Kingsley
    Jun 6 '17 at 20:52

The effect of ethanol will always be the same. For that matter, two bottles of 5% beer equal one bottle of 10% wine.

Depending on its fermentation, it would contain different and different amounts of more complex fermentation products. Usually, a fermentation process that is very short (and thereby cheaper) would result in something that could easily cause a hangover. Wild yeast strains also tend to produce a larger variety of undesired substances. Modern distilleries have these removed during distillation allowing for faster fermentation.

In beers and wines, undesired by-products cannot be removed. Modern breweries and vineyards deal with that by using cultivated yeast strains and/or controlling the fermentation environment, resulting in products that don't give you headache.

The amount of hops in standard beers is negligible. Even if there were enough hops in beer to have any effect, hops may not have sleep-inducing effects after all. Apparently, research indicating such effects was conducted in combination with valerian.

The reason for adding hops to beer was its inhibiting effect on gram-negative bacteria. Nowadays, it's mostly added for its 'typical' beer flavour.

  • I really doubt they were used as an anti-bacterial way back when. They were plentiful and tasted better than the gruit being made. Boiling and then fermentation do enough to kill off all but the very worst bugs. Hops do some stuff but it's only part of the picture. rug.nl/research/portal/files/14522598/c1.pdf Jun 12 '18 at 22:58

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