I have noticed that when I spend a night drinking the usual lagers found on bar taps in the UK (Heineken, Carlsberg, etc.), I have a much worse hangover than when I spend a night drinking locally brewed real ales (or mass-produced real ales such as Spitfire, Wainwright, etc.).

Is there any reason for this? Do lagers contain any ingredients that can cause worse hangovers than real ales?

5 Answers 5


That is possible to a level, but not proven, and probably does not make a huge difference, as there are many factors causing hangover, some stronger than others.

Moreover, that would be saying that all commercial beers have the same effects and all local brewed ales have the same other (better) effect, which sounds to me very simple and convenient to conclude.

That being said, adjuncts in mass-produced beers may still play a role, but I would tend to seek the explanation for the hangover difference in context first.

But anyway, hangover mechanisms are not well understood, so I could be wrong !


Yes, they contain adjuncts which aren't malted barley to make them cheaper to produce.

These adjuncts aren't the same type of sugar so are fermented differently than maltose.


This does indeed happen to me, too. So I stopped drinking beer where the ingredients aren't listed or if I think the beer is likely to contain GMO. Call me a tree hugger I don't care;-)

I remember reading the head aches may come from fusel oils, which are byproducts of fermentation. Depending on the ingredients there may be more or less of them. I remember reading a while back that mold and spoilage can cause a higher concentration of those fusel oils in the wine; hence, wine made from handpicked grapes is of higher quality. I wouldn't be surprised if it's similar in beer production


A while back Jim Koch, the owner of Boston Beer Company, said in an interview that his secret to hangover avoidance was straight up eating live brewer's yeast. This is probably dubious at best, but if you had to stretch to make something sound plausible...yeast has a good amount of Vitamin B and Magnesium, which are essential nutrients. Anything marketed as Real Ale is likely unfiltered and will therefor have more live yeast in it than filtered ale or lager. So it could, in theory, maybe, sortof, a bit, if you squint at it, sideways, have something to do with buffering the hangover better vs filtered ale or lager.

It may also be an adjunct fermentation or ABV related thing like others have mentioned. Or it may not?

  • Papazian also mentions this in Joy of Home Brewing.
    – Magellan
    Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 0:23

Hangovers are worse depending on sugar content regardless of type of alcoholic beverage. Mixed drinks that use sugar free mixes don’t hurt as much the next day so figure out the sugar content.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.