The Joy of Beer

Brain releases dopamine after just a taste

beer news from the field

    Photo: Roman Sigaev via Shutterstock

Maybe we need to give beer more credit. A new study indicates that, at least for men, alcohol isn't the only thing that makes it so fun to drink: simply tasting beer could make you crave more.

Researchers observed the brain activity of 49 men as they sipped 0.5 ounces of beer over 15 minutes, and saw a significant release of the pleasure chemical dopamine.  More surprisingly, the dopamine effect of beer was stronger for those who reported a family history of alcoholism. This could indicate a potential genetic link.

As a comparison, researchers also asked the men to drink Gatorade. This had a much less pronounced effect on their brains' reward centers. The men also overwhelmingly reported that they wanted more beer after tasting it, but had little desire for more of the sports drink after a sip. Sorry, Gatorade.

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