April 26, 2014— -- If you want to stay sober while downing a six-pack of beer, Sam Adams founder Jim Koch thinks he has a solution: a spoonful of yeast.
In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Koch said he takes a spoonful of yeast in order to stay sober as he enjoys his own product. Koch, the co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, claims by mixing some yeast into some yogurt before drinking, he can stay sober all night long.
"One teaspoon per beer, right before you start drinking," he reportedly told Esquire Magazine.
Koch said that he learned the trick from a friend with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, who said that enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) in the yeast will break down the alcohol before it enters the bloodstream, keeping the drinker from any embarrassing drunken missteps.
"And it will mitigate -- not eliminate -- but mitigate the effects of alcohol!" Koch warns.
But experts say there's a lot that can go wrong with this plan.
Dr. Richard Peek, gastroenterologist and director of the Gastroenterology, Hematology and Nutrition at Vanderbilt University, said different people can have very different reactions and pointed out there's no medical study that has shown that yeast can help inhibit drunkenness.
Peek said it's possible that yeast enzymes from a powder will not survive the intense stomach acid, meaning it will not help break down alcohol. Additionally Peed said there might be one more uncomfortable result if the theory is correct: hangovers.
"It's a double edged sword. If it is actually working like people presume and you're breaking down more of the alcohol, some of the toxic byproducts of that enzyme [could mean] hangovers could be worse," said Peek.
However, Peek said the idea was definitely intriguing although he was wary of recommending the practice without more scientific proof.
"There are a lot of questions that [remain.] My summary point is it's not time to rush out and buy stock in yeast," Peek said. "[But] if you were going to do a study there would be no shortage of participants."