Summer is coming! We’ve already had a sneak peak of whats to come with some sunny bank holidays and as the days get longer we can look forward to more outdoor activities as well as warm lazy afternoons. Whilst I look forward to bright, sunny days at barbecues or sat in beer gardens there is one thing that I could do without … hay fever.
Hay fever symptoms started effecting me in my early adulthood and I have had to find ways of managing them. Recently, however, I have noticed a pattern of itchy eyes and sneezing after I’ve been drinking beer both at home or when I’ve been out socialising. I decided to do some research and I was surprised to find out that beer contains histamines. In the human body, histamines are a defence mechanism produced by the immune system which help to get rid of allergens by whatever means possible, for example: sneezing. Histamine is also produced by yeast and natural bacteria during the fermentation process so can be found in many dark fermented alcohols like wine as well as beer. Through the research I also discovered that the presence of sulphites, found in hops (and grapes), can cause allergy symptoms which effect many people who already have a sensitivity to preservatives.
It’s not all bad news though for hay fever sufferers as there are some alcohols that have lower levels of histamines and a study conducted by Asthma UK found that drinking lighter spirits, such as gin or vodka, can minimise allergy symptoms. Great news for breweries that have their own range of gins! I wrote a post last year about breweries producing gins based on some of their favourite beer recipes, which can be found here. Since writing this blog post Tiny Rebel released their trio of beer inspired spirits with Dutty, Cwtch and Clwb Tropicana being given the gin treatment.
Although there is not much written on this subject, I found the research very interesting and I felt that it explained a few things about my experience with hay fever symptoms. Talking to my friends, I discovered that they have also noticed they perhaps felt a bit more sniffly after a few beers during the summer months but they had no idea that there may have been a reason for that. Despite this it hasn’t made me change my drinking habits. I enjoy a gin every now and then, as well as rum or an occasional cider but it doesn’t change the fact that, in my opinion, there is nothing better then a refreshingly chilled beer on a hot summer’s day.