Back at the beginning of the year I decided to take a year off from drinking. I know this is an absurd idea for someone that enjoys brewing so much, but I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. After about a month of not drinking I actually had this weird positivity about me and I thought, “maybe it takes a month to fully recover from drinking for the past 15 years.”
As weird as that sounds, there was a secondary effect taking place that was much more concrete. I was waking up in the morning with rock hard boners. The reason for this could have been anything. It was hard for me to discount the lack of beer in my diet as a possible culprit though.
I did a little digging and found out that one of the main ingredients in beer, namely hops, is extremely estrogenic. Was this a simple coincidence or was there a greater conspiracy a foot?
Discovery of side effects
Many moons ago some brewers figured out that women who went out into the fields and picked the hops would go into their period earlier in life. Besides this, it also had the effect of lowering the libido (limp dick) and giving men feminized bodies (man boobs). Despite popular belief, ancient people weren’t idiots. They figured out that it was actually the hops themselves causing all of this.
Why is this? It’s because hops contain high levels of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are merely plant derived chemicals that mimic natural estrogen produced by humans. The endocrine system in humans is extremely complicated, but to simplify a bit, estrogen is a female hormone and will lower testosterone and give you more female characteristics.
You may have heard of phytoestrogens being in plastic and causing birth defects and lowering testosterone in males. The same stuff that you won’t let your baby drink is in all your favorite beers that you are guzzling down.
Back in the day, hops were just one of many items that were put in beer to create different tastes and effects. Beer used to be a totally unregulated drink that was more medicinal in nature than recreational. It used to be that you’d go to your local herbalist and get some beer prepared with some magic herbs to heal some condition you were in.
These beers were called Gruit and are all but impossible to find these days. In fact, if you ask some prominent brewers about making gruit they will all but crucify you.
Somewhere along the line, beer became a very regulated thing and depending on who you ask became a weapon against libido. In the 16th century the German Beer Purity Law came into effect and mandated that the only ingredients to be used for beer were water, barley, hops, and yeast. The question then is who was behind this law and how did it come to be passed? Some say that the Protestants of the time were very influential in this law and mandated hops to be used to lower libido among men.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to keep a virile young man from having sex, but consider the widespread use of beer at the time. Drinking was much more prevalent as a daily activity than current times. Beer was a reliable source of clean fluids to drink. You weren’t risking dysentary by drinking due to the alcohol in beer killing pathogens. You add hops to the mix and pretty much everyone at the time is lowering their libido.
What are the effects of excess estrogen? They aren’t good, and that’s if you’re a man or a woman. For men, having excess estrogen basically starts transforming you into a woman. You’ll start holding more fat on your body, start developing man boobs, your balls will shrink, and you’ll eventually lose your erections.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? To me it sounds like a typical American male who has been guzzling hopped up American Lagers for the past 30 years. Couple this with the fact that men start losing testosterone naturally at around age 30 and you have a recipe for disaster.
For women, excess estrogen can result in some really effects. Women will start gaining weight, having mood swings, having irregular periods, and have a higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer.
IPA and “triple hopped beer”
Imagine the damage you are doing to your body by inserting all these extra hormone like chemicals into your body. Now imagine doing much more severe damage by putting more hops in your beer. That’s currently the trend going on in America.
I say America because other countries still have good beer. Yes their beer contains hops, but not everything is hop this, hop that. The beer style “American Pale Ale” is essentially just another IPA now. With the popularity of hops in America, every microbrewery is forced to make at least one IPA if they want to be profitable. Some are taking it to the extreme by offering many different styles of IPA. You got your white IPA, black IPA, red IPA, and of course the IPA IPA.
Not only is this hop trend taking over the craft beer market, but it’s also taking over the big 3 domestic beers. Miller Lite is advertising their beer as “triple hopped brewed”. I have no idea what that actually entails, but I just imagine some guy at the miller factory dumping more hops in than normal.
America, we don’t have to go down this road.
The obvious solution to downing a bunch of estrogen is to just stop drinking. This actually takes less balls than you think. Once you get used to being out in social situations for a while without drinking, it becomes something you don’t need to do anymore.
This was my experience at least. Once I went to the bar a handful of times and didn’t order anything to drink, I stopped caring about it. Furthermore, when I did occasionally get a drink, it was just one or two to try something out or just have something to sip on while everything is happening around me.
Perhaps you aren’t ready to give up drinking though which is completely understandable. What you should do is embrace making mead. There aren’t any hops in mead, so feel free to drink away and not have to worry about excess estrogen. This is the true secret of the Vikings, they dominated because their drinks weren’t holding them back.
You could also get into the ancient tradition of making gruit. If you decide to go this route be prepared for some experimentation. There’s not too many people out there that are into this stuff and the results could be underwhelming for you.
Another avenue you could take is to drink less hoppy beers. Ever notice that an English bitter isn’t all that bitter when compared to American beers? They use less hops. Give them a try. Generally beers from other parts of the world will be less hoppy than their American counterparts.
Then there’s the always tried and true method of just drinking liquor. A nice scotch, bourbon, or mixed drink with vodka or tequila. None of these have hops.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to think twice about the ingredients in your beer. Yes, we all know that alcohol is bad for you, but now we’re starting to see that it could be the hops that are the really bad part, not the alcohol itself.
“Think before you drink”
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