Science shows just a sip of beer makes you want more

Scientists are at it again. Researchers have shown that it only takes a sip of beer to increase levels of the pleasure chemical dopamine in the brain. Unfortunately, dopamine isn’t the same thing endorphins, so that’s not necessarily a good thing.

To see how the taste of beer affects the brain, researchers gave a group of men tiny tastes of beer, and as the men sipped the beer, the researchers scanned the men’s brains. After a taste of beer, the men’s brains showed a notable release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with the pleasurable experience of consuming alcohol and other drugs. The effect was even greater among men who had a family history of alcoholism.

It would be easy to read that and say, “A sip of beer makes us happy.” But that’s not what it actually means. Yes, dopamine is associated with pleasure, but it isn’t responsible for making us feel good. The chemical is simply telling us that what we’ve done was enjoyable. In turn, it causes us to want to engage in the activity more often. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly can be.

This can apply to sex, booze, drugs, you name it. Tiger really should have blamed his “sex addiction” on dopamine, and then declared, “You can’t blame the wang.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a shot of beer to remind myself that I like drinking.

The taste of beer triggers good feelings in the brain [LiveScience]