If you’re feeling a little down, you might want to skip the wine and grab a beer instead. A recent study (appropriately conducted in Germany) uncovered that a substance in beer called hordenine can activate the reward systems in the brain and make you feel happier.
“It came as a bit of a surprise,” said Professor Monika Pischetsrieder, lead author of the study. We’re not sure why the researchers weren’t expecting it; if you’ve ever cracked open a beer after a long day, you’ve likely felt the effects yourself.
But the surprising part is that it’s not just the alcohol — this chemical is also working specifically to release happy hormones, quite literally putting the “happy” in happy hour. This positive response to drinking could encourage beer drinkers to splurge on one too many brews in search of the next reward, leading to overconsumption and intoxication — without feeling the apprehension or regret.
Hordenine automatically lifts the drinker’s spirits, increasing confidence and self-esteem. The response is encouraging, exciting, and could be the reason it’s so hard to stop at just one pint.
The key is in malted barley, used to add flavor in most brews of beer. After examining 13,000 food molecules, the team discovered a compound in malted barley, hordenine, which activated the dopamine D2 receptor. Unlike other dopamine responses, this compound reacts through G proteins — a slower process that creates a more prolonged positive effect.
With the results gaining media attention in the midst of Germany’s Oktoberfest celebration, the researchers’ timing was impeccable. Their country’s happiness meter is about to fly through the roof. For 20 other things you need to know before the world-famous celebration starts, click here.