A most unusual case in the histories of both beer brewing and breathalyzers recently emerged when a 61-year-old Texas man stumbled into a hospital emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses gave him a breathalyzer test. The result: a whopping 0.37% BAC--a nearly fatal amount of alcohol.
The hitch: he hadn't had a drop to drink all day.
While medical professionals chalked it up to "closet drinking", one team of gastroenterologists in Lubbock took a closer look. They isolated the man in a room for 24 hours, searching him first for any sign of hidden booze stashes. Finding none, they fed him normal, carb-rich foods and gave him periodic breathalyzer tests. At one point, his BAC hit 0.12%--well over the legal limit.
The doctors came to an interesting conclusion. The man had a profusion of brewer's yeast living in his intestinal tract. He was actually brewing beer in his stomach.
Interviewing the man, they found that he did have a long history of home brewing, and when he ate starchy foods--breads, pasta, even soda--his stomach started brewing beer.
It turns out that this is a rare--though documented--syndrome, where the body is infected with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the bacteria simply took up long term residence. Some have contracted short term infections after taking antibiotics (which clear out all bacteria from the digestive tract, leaving it wide open to infection), and then drinking beer or taking Saccharomyces supplements (sometimes taken as a probiotic).
Gives a whole new meaning to "six pack abs"!
This story originally appeared on NPR.