Unlike many beer sites American Craft Beer has long argued that mood enhancement is the primary reason that people drink beer. Sure people are drawn to its taste, but without the alcohol buzz that accompanies it would people have embraced beer as they have?
We think not.
And now a research team in the UK has developed an alternative to alcohol that they claim delivers the mood-enhancement of alcohol without any of the side effects.
The new molecular compound, named Alcarelle, was created by a team led by Imperial College London’s neuro-psycho pharmacology Professor David Nutt and has reportedly been two years in the making.
Professor Nutt is an interesting character. He was once the UK government’s drugs advisor but was fired in 2009 for claiming that alcohol is more dangerous than ecstasy or LSD.
“Alcohol is my favorite drug, and it has the huge benefit of helping us socialize as humans,” said Nutt….
“Alcohol mimics a chemical called GABA which is produced in the brain. With our synthetic alcohol, we’ve been targeting the receptors in the parts of the brain which regulate how you feel and how you interact and how you socialize.”
“You can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating this system in the brain,” explained Nutt. “In some experiments, the effect is indistinguishable from alcohol. We want to keep the pleasure, but not the pain, essentially. You don’t get the physiological changes that ethanol does from Alcarelle, I’ve tried and tested it myself.”
The words ethanol and alcohol are not interchangeable. Put simply, ethanol is the only type of alcohol that is safe to drink.
Nutt, who according to the Drinks Business also owns a bar with his daughter in the UK, is still a big fan of alcohol.
“We’ve developed the compound so that no matter how much Alcarelle you have in a drink, you won’t get wasted, just tipsy. It’s like having two or so glasses of wine. It’s also a small molecule so you don’t need much of it to feel the effect when it’s mixed into a drink, and it clears from your body within hours and it doesn’t metabolize in the liver like alcohol. Hence, the lack of side-effects.
“I’m not suggesting we do away with alcohol in place of this, or that it’s a replacement. It’s about giving people a choice other than abstinence and alcohol. Currently, people only have two choices; to drink or not to drink, but this could give people the sociability they want from alcohol without them having to drink.’
“Most people enjoy alcohol and I don’t want to stop that, Professor Nutt told Inews “I just want to offer people something less harmful. After all, we’ve finally got the science to make it happen. Why wouldn’t we?”
So will synthetic alcohol chane the beer biz?
If Alcarelle can effectively duplicate the unique mood-enhancing qualities that are distinct to beer without the toxic toll of alcohol the short answer is a resounding yes. It’s awaiting approval in the UK and if things go well to become publicly available in the next five years