Why Does Draft Beer Give Me A Headache?

Have you ever wondered why that refreshing pint of draft sometimes leaves you with a pounding headache? It's a question that has puzzled many beer enthusiasts, and today we are going to delve into the science behind this phenomenon.

One possible culprit for the headache after enjoying draft beer is the presence of histamines. Histamines are naturally occurring compounds found in various foods and beverages, including beer. When you consume draft beer, these histamines can trigger your immune system to release its own histamines, leading to allergy-like symptoms. Redness and inflammation around the face and body, along with headaches, are common manifestations of this histamine response.

But histamines are not the only culprits at play. Ethanol, the present in beer, can also contribute to headaches. When your body breaks down ethanol, it produces a byproduct called acetaldehyde. This toxic chemical builds up in your blood and can result in headaches and other discomforts associated with hangovers.

Moreover, certain components in beer, such as grains, modified grain proteins, , , molds, and barleys, can trigger sensitivities or allergies in some individuals. This means that your body may react negatively to specific ingredients present in the beer, leading to headaches or other adverse symptoms.

Additionally, some beers contain additives like sulphites, sodium benzoate, or tartrazine, which can also cause sensitivities or reactions in certain individuals. These additives are used for various purposes, such as preserving the beer or enhancing its color, but they can potentially contribute to the headache mystery.

On the topic of draft beer and hangovers, there is a common belief that “dirty lines” in bars or pubs, which refer to unclean tap lines, may be responsible for worse hangovers. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. The nationwide Brewers Association spokesperson even dismisses the correlation, suggesting that it would make for an interesting episode on Mythbusters.

In conclusion (or rather, without concluding), the headache mystery associated with draft beer is multifaceted. Histamines, ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde, specific ingredients in beer, and additives can all potentially contribute to the discomfort some individuals experience after enjoying a pint. The best way to tackle this issue is to be mindful of your body's reactions and perhaps experiment with different types of beer to find the ones that suit you best. Cheers!

Why Do Draft Beers Give Me A Headache?

Excessive histamines present in draft beers can contribute to the occurrence of headaches in some individuals. Histamines are naturally occurring compounds that are involved in the body's immune response. When you consume beer, particularly draft beer, it may contain higher levels of histamines compared to other alcoholic beverages.

Here's how the process works:

1. Histamines in beer: Beer, especially those made through fermentation processes like , contains histamines. These histamines can be produced during the fermentation process or can be present in the ingredients used to make beer, such as hops or yeast.

2. Immune system response: When you consume beer with high levels of histamines, your immune system may perceive them as foreign substances or allergens. This triggers an immune response, leading to the release of your body's own histamines.

3. Histamine release: The release of histamines by your immune system can cause various symptoms, including headaches. Histamines can dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow, leading to inflammation and pressure in the head, resulting in headache symptoms.

4. Individual sensitivity: It's important to note that not everyone is equally sensitive to histamines in beer. Some individuals may experience more pronounced symptoms, such as headaches, while others may not be affected at all.

Here are some additional factors that can contribute to headaches after consuming draft beer:

– Alcohol content: Alcohol itself can cause headaches in some individuals. Higher alcohol content in beer may lead to dehydration, which can trigger headaches.

– Personal tolerance: Each person's tolerance to alcohol and histamines can vary. Some individuals may be more susceptible to headaches due to their personal sensitivity or predisposition.

– Other ingredients: Apart from histamines, other ingredients in beer, such as sulfites or certain flavoring agents, can also contribute to headaches in some individuals.

To mitigate the occurrence of headaches after consuming draft beers, you can consider the following:

– Moderation: Consuming beer in moderation can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing headaches or other adverse effects.

– Hydration: Ensuring adequate hydration before, during, and after consuming beer can help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol and potentially minimize headaches.

– Histamine-free beer alternatives: If you find that histamines in beer consistently give you headaches, you may explore low-histamine or histamine-free beer alternatives that are available in the market.

– Consult a healthcare professional: If you frequently experience severe headaches or have concerns about your reactions to beer, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice and guidance.

The presence of histamines in draft beers, along with other factors like alcohol content and individual sensitivity, can contribute to the occurrence of headaches. Understanding your own body's response and making informed choices can help manage and potentially prevent these headaches.

why does draft beer give me a headache

Why Does Draft Beer Make Me Feel Bad?

Draft beer can sometimes make people feel bad due to a variety of reasons. Here are some possible explanations:

1. Grain sensitivities: Certain individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to specific grains used in beer production. These grains, such as barley or wheat, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, allergic reactions, or other adverse effects.

2. Modified grain proteins: Some beers may contain modified grain proteins, which can be more difficult to digest for some people. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, or stomach discomfort.

3. Hops: Hops are a crucial ingredient in beer, providing bitterness and aroma. However, some individuals may have a sensitivity or allergy to hops, leading to symptoms such as headaches, nasal congestion, or even skin reactions.

4. Yeast: Yeast is responsible for the fermentation process in beer production. While yeast is generally safe for consumption, some people may have sensitivities or intolerances to yeast, leading to digestive issues or other discomfort.

5. Molds: Occasionally, beer can contain traces of molds due to the brewing process or storage conditions. Mold sensitivity can cause symptoms similar to allergic reactions, such as sneezing, itching, or respiratory issues.

6. Additives: Some beers may contain additives like sulphites, sodium benzoate, or tartrazine. Sensitivities or allergies to these additives can cause adverse symptoms, including headaches, respiratory issues, or skin reactions.

It's important to note that everyone's reactions to beer can vary, and not all individuals will experience these issues. If you consistently feel bad after consuming draft beer, it may be helpful to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and explore potential solutions.


Drinking draft beer can have various effects on the body, some of which may contribute to the experience of a hangover. The presence of histamines in beer can trigger an allergic-like response, leading to symptoms such as redness, inflammation, and headaches. Additionally, the metabolism of ethanol in the body produces acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct that can contribute to hangover symptoms.

While some reactions to beer may be specific to certain grains, modified grain proteins, hops, yeast, molds, or barleys, there is no concrete evidence to support the claim that unintended bacteria found in draft beer causes hangovers. The presence of additives like sulphites, sodium benzoate, or tartrazine in some beers may also contribute to sensitivities or reactions in some individuals.

It is important to note that individual tolerances and reactions to beer can vary greatly. Some people may be more susceptible to the histamine release and other effects, while others may have no noticeable reaction at all. It is always best to drink responsibly and in moderation to minimize any potential negative effects.

While draft beer can contribute to hangover symptoms due to the presence of histamines and the metabolism of ethanol, the claim that unintended bacteria in draft beer causes hangovers appears to be unfounded. Further research may be needed to fully understand the specific factors contributing to individual reactions to beer.

Photo of author

Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.