Tag Archives: beer

The Only Sure-Thing, Absolute, Trick-Free Guide to Avoiding a Hangover. Seriously.

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Why We Love Alcohol

Who doesn’t love drinking? I know I do, and unless you have some medical problems we don’t know about or are abstaining for religious or moral reasons, you probably love consuming fresh, delicious alcohol too.

The wonderful versatility of this drug lets us consume it in dozens of forms, so there’s one for every palate: is wine your thing? There’s plenty. Maybe the bitter taste of beer leaves you feeling more refreshed. There’s a whole world of them out there.

Delicious, Delicious Variety

Hard liquor what you need to get through the day? No worries, alcohol’s in all of those, too! And there are hundreds! Fruit-filled drinks that taste more like sugary juices than any kind of traditional alcoholic beverage? Sure, why the hell not?

With all that’s out there to choose from, and with our homes, apartments, bars, clubs, outdoor festivals, alleys, and bathrooms as suitable and enjoyable places where we can enjoy a drink, what’s stopping us from drinking all the time? I mean, really, why don’t we?

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Drunk at Work

Two centuries ago, in America, the average citizen put away an absolutely unbelievable amount of gin or other strong alcohol per day. Most people were drunk—quite drunk—by the time they started the second half of their workday. Sure, workplace accidents were legion and the health benefits were nil, but so what?

Alright, maybe my dream of an alchohol-fueled workforce is outdated and irresponsibly dangerous. Maybe drinking isn’t something that needs to be the absolute center of our lives, lest we lapse into alcoholism and early deaths by the thousands. But besides those sad possibilities, there’s a much worse consequence: the dreaded hangover.

Consequences: May Range from Mild to Unbelievably Nauseating and Painful

The sickness, occasional vomiting, general feeling of complete depression: all these things alcohol leaves us as its wonderful parting gift. Is there any way around it? Sure. Don’t drink. But what if we want to keep drinking, and yet keep our jobs, our lives, our mental health?

With just that in mind, ryoni.com is now going to give you the two most fundamental, absolute, you-must-always-follow-these rules for avoiding, destroying, or getting around a hangover.

These are not little magic recipes involving eggs and wheat germ or strange other things you’ve got to consume the morning after. These are the two (and you only need two) tried-and-true ways to actually AVOID or seriously REDUCE your hangover altogether, which is all that really matters.

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Rule Number One: If You Mix Alcohol, Never Increase the Strength.

In other words, if you start with beer, which is generally the lowest-alcohol drink you can find, try and stick with beer. Everyone knows that the drunker you get, the easier it is to consume, but there are other problems, hidden ones, too, if you don’t heed this rule.

See, it’s not just that you don’t feel the alcohol content when you’re downing that whiskey at the end of the night as though it was the same as that beer you had hours before. It’s also crucial for your hangover, and for the way your body deals with the alcohol itself.

Throwing a whole bunch of different drinks and alcohol percentages at your stomach mean your liver is going to be processing them at wildly varying rates, and thus will be operating at less than full capacity.

It’s Far Too Easy to Confuse Your System

Sure, if you simply drink ‘too much’ wine you’ll get plenty sick regardless, but by mixing it up, you’re confusing the hell out of your body’s system to process alcohol, which might mean that, in switching from wine to beer to vodka, you can stave off vomiting like you wouldn’t if you threw back 10 rum & cokes in an row, but you will pay the price (dearly) the next day.

Why? Because the next day, your liver and brain will still be going through that encyclopedia of alcohol you’ve thrown at them and telling you to never do it again.

Stick with one or two ‘types’, relatively close in alcohol content. Strong beer and mild wine are a good example. This can really, really, really save your ass.

It’s the difference bewteen a mildly annoying hangover you’ve gotta ‘shake off’ and one that debilitates you for the day. Your workplace will thank you for making the responsible decision.

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Rule Number Two: Water is Your Friend.

You’ve probably heard about the ‘chase every drink with a pint of water‘ rule. I have never, in my life, ever, seen anyone following this maxim, partly because it’s easy to forget, and secondly because the quantity of liquid inevitably slows down your alcohol consumption. It’s simply not possible to throw back that second pint when you’ve laid down a half-litre of water just beforehand.

Ah, but you say—that’s the whole point! It slows down your consumption AND hydrates you, thus conferring a double benefit! No. That’s only a benefit if you’re being responsible and thinking about every step before you take it, which goes exactly against the image of a wanton drinker, throwing back pints with reckless abandon. We’re here to drink and have fun, not keep a drink diary and file a report the next morning, fresh as dew.

Cram that Precious Water Down Your Throat

Not to worry, though, as there’s a better way to use your new best friend, mister water. Although it’s the equivalent of studying for 15 hours the night before a big exam, we’ve all done that before, right? And this time there’s no exam, just a hangover waiting to punish you. So cram away.

All you have to do is drink about 2-3 litres of water before you go to sleep. Of course, if you are stumbling around blind drunk, on the verge of vomiting or blacking out, there’s no way you are going to get that much water down, so you’re already a lost cause. But if you’re just feeling “really drunk” and have to, say, work the next day? Get over to that tap and stay there for at least a half hour.

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Should You Take An Aspirin, Too?

A lot of people also swear by the painkiller method in combination with this–something NOT containing acetominophen, which will destroy your liver when it’s already extremely busy with the alcohol, but say, ibuprofen, which will just be heavy on your stomach and kidneys but leave your liver alone.

Again, no one ever really recommends taking pills after you’ve drank a lot, so we are definitely not recommending it here, just mentioning that some (reckless) people swear by it as something to reduce any potential headaches the next day. But it runs a big risk.

Back to the water, which doesn’t have much of a risk at all: it’s the key. It’s not easy, and you’re going to have to force literally pint after pint of water down your throat when the only thing you want to do is go to sleep, but in the end, I swear, your body will thank you dearly.

The Price Your Bladder Will Pay

If you have a weak bladder, you’ll be getting up once during the night to hit the bathroom, or when you wake up in the morning you are going to be absolutely racing to the toilet, but it’s a very small price to pay for a day free of the hangover.

It’s not great for your bladder, sure, but is bombing your body with alcohol and then letting it process it all during the night any better? The phyiscal pain your body goes through during a hangover is probably just as damaging as a bit of extra water you’ve gotta hold during the night (but then again, I’m no doctor).

As for your hangover, if you’ve followed this method: it changes completely. It’s still there, somewhat, but the worst manifestation you’ll probably get is a kind of mild depression, which then gets alleviated by caffeine and other alcoholic beverages you start consuming later on in the day.

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A Hangover That Actually Feels Kinda Nice, We Swear

In other words, the absolute best kind of hangover, the one that brings you just a touch down and then leaves you feeling relieved and happy every time you take yourself back up (with a meal, sugar, coffee, another beer, whatever).

A final maxim: DO NOT partake of this ‘cure’ the next morning and expect miracles. By all means, if you went immediately to sleep, drink lots of water in the morning. Regardless of anything else, that’s a good idea. But don’t expect it to work like the night-time cure does.

Why This Only Works the Night Before

So do not give your body the chance to digest only alcohol all night. By the time you wake up, your brain will have been asking for water for several hours, and your body, due to your lack of intake, will have been unable to provide it. Giving it a little bit the morning after is simply not enough.

See, after your night of alcohol digestion and processing, and a lack of water, your brain will contract slightly, giving you the hangover headache that will ruin your day.

Don’t let it happen! Give your brain what it wants, annoy your bladder somewhat, and drink water BEFORE bed. Lots of it.

We welcome any other sure-fire hangover cures in the comments!

The Rise of Extreme Beer

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Beer has officially arrived in the United States of America. Sure, this may sound like a strange thing to say in 2009, but it’s true. Today, Americans are living in a time of unfettered access to some of the most interesting beers in history, some of the greatest brewpubs ever opened, and an ever-changing market that is pushing the world of beer in radically different directions.

The best thing about extreme beer and craft brewing: it’s a world of taste, variance, and unbelievable detail, all available to anyone willing. There are no cost restrictions, as most beer remains inexpensive. You can drink what is (or was) considered the best beer in the world, the Westvleteren 12 Abt, for under $20. Because it’s beer, it’s not about aging, so there are no cellars full of vintage brews you’ll never get access too–the finest, by necessity, is the newest.

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And finally, because so many people drink beer as a casual pursuit in itself, at pubs and at home, it’s remarkably easy to ramp up one’s appreciation of the stuff. There are no courses you need to take, no heavy certification that will sap your money and take all your time.

Of all the 21st-century ‘guy’ things you might consciously choose to get into as a hobby or pursuit, beer is one of the most highly rewarding. Cheaper than wine, easier than cooking, bigger than cheese, more fun than poker, more legal than cuban cigars… the list goes on.

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So, where to start? First, for a lay of the land, you can’t get better than Burkhard Bilger’s recent essay in the New Yorker, called A Better Brew. While reviewing the movement from above, he also zooms in upon Sam Calagione and his Dogfish Head Brewery, one of the shining stars of new American beer. He’s been brewing for 13 years, and draws upon ancient (and often strange) traditions when deciding how to form his next beer. Bilger also, like every New Yorker writer worth his/her salt, gives us a series of insights on the history of American beer:

America used to be full of odd beers. In 1873, the country had some four thousand breweries, working in dozens of regional and ethnic styles. Brooklyn alone had nearly fifty. Beer was not only refreshing but nutritious, it was said—a “valuable substitute for vegetables,” as a member of the United States Sanitary Commission put it during the Civil War.

Ah, the famous beer-for-vegetables substitute. Very hard to pull off properly. 150 years ago, of course, people were drinking a hell of a lot more alcohol per person than they do today. Sure, we’ve got binge drinking (ah, damn, they had that too), but the 1800s had all-day, on-the-job drinking. Downing a pint of gin at lunch. Throwing back two strong ones to get you through the afternoon.

Besides a resurgency in the 1960s (unless Mad Men is lying to me), America has always had a conflicted relationship with alcohol. Puritan roots, I say. That’s my answer for every complex question about American history, really. Puritan roots.

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But back to beer: why exactly was there such a dark age in American brewing? Why, for years, was beer dominated by large-scale brewers, with dozens upon dozens of bars only serving one main brand? The answer is industrialization. The same reason why bakeries, butchers, and fruit & vegetable stores disappeared across the US between the 1940s and 1960s is the same reason beer became homogeneous, invariable, boring.

Then came Prohibition, followed hard by industrialization. Beer went from barrel to bottle and from saloon to home refrigerator, and only the largest companies could afford to manufacture and distribute it. A generation raised on Coca-Cola had a hard time readjusting to beer’s bitterness, and brewers diluted their recipes accordingly. In 1953, Miller High Life was dismissed by one competitor as a beer for “women and beginners.” Within a decade, most other beers were just as flavorless.

Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. After finishing the article and calming your ever-increasing desire for a delicious beer, where can you go for more? Here are a few places to start your odyssey into a land of completely accessible snobbishness (the best and most fun kind, of course):

BeerAdvocate.com

Your first stop. Great forums, frequent updates, passionate users.

RateBeer.com

Saw a strange beer on offer in an even stranger brewpub? Find opinions on it here, and leave your own.

Esquire.com’s Best Bars in America

A strong emphasis on bars offering quality beers means this list won’t let you down.

Still need more? Check out this documentary called American Beer, filmed by the guys who later opened Brooklyn’s famous Barcade.

And now, go, drink!