Adding a New Dimension to “Bread Drunk”

This popped onto my radar yesterday: Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut.

A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.

There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day. […]

Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to “closet drinking.” But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.

So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut. […]

That’s right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.

The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut. Cordell and McCarthy reported the case of “auto-brewery syndrome” a few months ago in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Apparently, it’s actually a friendly yeast in the gut, but as with so much we’re learning about “the other 90% of us”—gut bacteria outnumber human cells 10-to-1—it’s a balance thing.

As they say…too much of a good thing.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. John on September 20, 2013 at 07:37

    Richard I have to thank you for linking to Judgybitch. That is the best blog I’ve seen in a long time, and JB’s sense of logic and reason regarding some very crucial and current issues combined with her delivery blows me away.

  2. Richard Nikoley on September 20, 2013 at 07:45

    Yea, John. She’s not always in my wheelhouse and I’m Yawn about a good number of posts. But she hits it out of the park often enough.

  3. Weekly Roundup #73 on September 26, 2013 at 12:25

    […] Richard Nikoley shares an amusing anecdote about how to get drunk without drinking. […]

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