Why does tap beer give me a headache?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “why does tap beer give me a headache” with an in-depth analysis of the possible factors that can trigger headaches. Moreover, we are going to discuss the differences between the bottled and tap beer and the chemistry behind beer production.

For some of us, an outing will remain incomplete without some booze or beer. So if you are out clubbing with your friends but are confused about the aftermaths of drinking tap beer or draught beer then you need not worry. We are here to rectify your confusion and will give you a thorough answer to your question “Why dies tap beer give me a headache”.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Why does tap beer give me a headache?

Ethanol, the chemical substance present in alcoholic beverages is the main reason behind the headaches that you get after consuming a lot of tap beer. So let me get this straight like all other types of alcoholic beverages, beer also contains alcohol. Different varieties of beer have different percentages of alcohol added to their composition but commonly 5% alcohol is used in the formulation of the beer along with some other ingredient.

Moreover, there are also some chemicals other than the ethanol known as congeners that play a significant role in the headaches or the hangover if they are consumed in excess.

How does ethanol give headaches?

So there can be a number of ways by which ethanol can induce headaches whenever you consume some alcoholic beverage like beer. 


To start with, ethanol is an immediate vasodilator. Being a vasodilator, it dilates your blood vessels by relaxing the smooth muscles present in them, thereby increasing the overall area that the blood has to flow through them. And in certain individuals, this vasodilation can be a reason for headaches.


Secondly, ethanol is a characteristic diuretic which means that it increases the outflux of water from your body in the form of urine. Now it is not only the water that is getting eliminated from your body but many salts, nutrients, and minerals are also getting eliminated from the body through the kidneys. Thus utilizing large amounts of ethanol in the form of beer will result in dehydration and chemical imbalance in your body which can result in severe headaches. 

What is the difference between tap beer and bottled beer?

  1. Tap beers or draft beers are the type of beers that come from or are emptied down from a tap into a glass. Despite what might be expected, bottle beers are the ones that are stored in cans or bottles. Both of them have noticeable differences in their taste and smell with some people regarding the tap beer more flavorsome.
  2. When we talk about the sunlight vulnerability then tap beers are safer as it is difficult for the UV lights from the sun to penetrate these kegs or barrels while it is easier for them to enter the glass bottles in which beer is stored.
  3. When it comes to cleanliness the bottled beers are far more hygienic than the tap beer.
  4. In the case of portability, the bottled beer has an upper hand on the tap beer as the former can be taken everywhere but it is really difficult to move the latter from place to place.

Why consuming tap beer gives more headache than bottled beer?

There can be a variety of reasons other than simply the presence of ethanol that results in giving you headaches once you consume tap beer.

Poor hygiene

If the faucets or the taps through which the beer is coming out in the glass are dirty then it will result in bacterial growth forming in these taps. The beer coming out of the taps will have a lot of disease-causing microbes in it that can cause many health problems including severe headaches.

Moreover, if the bartender is lazy enough not to clean the glassware properly, then drinking beer in dirty glasses can also result in headaches and other health-related problems.

What is the chemistry behind beer production?

While talking about the chemical constituents of the beer, it contains vanillic acid, phenolic acids 4-hydroxyphenyl acetic acid, caffeic acid,p-coumaric acid, syringic acid, and sinapic acid, and ferulic acid. 

Alkaline hydrolysis tests show that the greater part of the phenolic acids are available as bound structures and just a little bit can be recognized as free compounds. The beer that is made by using it contains 8-prenylnaringenin which is an intense phytoestrogen. 

Barley which is utilized in the form of malt in the preparation of beer brings the condensed tannins prodelphinidin B3, B9, and C2 into it.

There are also some aromatic higher alcohols like tryptophol, tyrosol, and phenyl ethanol found in beer. These are basically the result of the alcoholic fermentation by the Saccharomyces cerevisiae and are formed as secondary products or by-products.

You can read the detailed chemistry of the beer here.

Things to keep in mind when drinking beer

  1. Know your limit and do not drink more beer than you can handle
  2. Keep a keen eye on the cleanliness of the glasses or the tap from which you are going to drink wine
  3. If you are too much concerned about the cleanliness profile then it is better to choose can or bottled beer.

Other FAQs about Beer which you may be interested in.

Does beer help UTI?

Does beer have water in it?

Does beer clean your system?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “why does tap beer give me a headache” with an in-depth analysis of the possible factors that can trigger headaches. Moreover, we discussed the differences between the bottled and tap beer and the chemistry behind beer production.



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