What Does The Beer Before Liquor Saying Mean?

Have you ever heard someone confidently claim, “Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear”?

This popular saying has long been touted as a foolproof recipe for avoiding dreadful hangovers.

But is there any truth behind this catchy rhyme?

Demystifying The Beer Before Liquor Saying

I’ve often heard the phrase “beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” tossed around during social gatherings and nights out.

But what does this catchy saying mean?

The idea is that if you start your night drinking beer and then switch to hard liquor like whiskey or vodka, you’re more likely to experience a terrible hangover the next day.

The origins of this saying are mysterious – some believe it dates back centuries to when European monarchs were overthrown by their alcohol-fueled enemies. Others argue that its roots stem from old wives’ tales passed down through generations.

Regardless of its history, many people abide by this rule as gospel for fear of enduring a wicked headache and queasy stomach after imbibing too much alcohol throughout the evening.

Scientific Explanation

Diving into the scientific explanation behind the saying “beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear,” we first need to look at what’s actually in our alcoholic beverages.

Different types of alcohol contain varying amounts of congeners, which are chemical byproducts produced during fermentation and aging processes.

For example, dark liquors such as bourbon or rum tend to have higher congener content compared to lighter-colored drinks like vodka or gin. Beer is somewhere in between these two extremes.

The theory suggests that drinking beer – with its lower congener content – before moving onto stronger liquors might overload your system with toxins, leading to a more severe hangover.

Does It Really Matter?

While the saying may be a popular myth, it’s important to understand the effects of different types of alcohol on the body and individual tolerance levels.


In conclusion, the rhyme “Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” is a popular saying that has been around for ages.

However, its validity as a guide to avoid hangovers is questionable. Carbonation from drinks like beer and sparkling wine can irritate the stomach lining and increase alcohol absorption rates, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that drinking beer before liquor always leads to sickness.


What does the saying “Beer before liquor, never been sicker” mean?

The saying refers to the idea that consuming beer before hard alcohol can lead to a worse hangover or adverse effects due to the different ways in which the body metabolizes these beverages.

Is there any scientific evidence behind this saying?

While some studies have explored how different types of alcohol affect the body, there is no definitive scientific proof that drinking beer before liquor will lead to worse health outcomes than consuming them in reverse order.

Are there any other factors that could contribute to feeling sick after drinking?

Yes, many factors such as overconsumption of alcohol, dehydration, lack of sleep and mixing different types of alcoholic drinks can all contribute to feelings of illness or discomfort after drinking.

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.