If you suffer from Acid Reflux, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), or Heartburn, you know how painful the symptoms are. And unfortunately, the main cause of these conditions can be the food you eat and what you drink.
So to avoid having to deal with the symptoms becoming too painful, it might be necessary to see what you’re ingesting and work out what could be worsening the pain.
The main characteristic of food and drink worsening Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn, is it being too acidic. Something is more acidic the lower its pH is, with pH 7 being a neutral pH.
Unfortunately, one of the main offenders for worsening the symptoms can be alcoholic beverages, including beer.
This is because, in the brewing process, some acidic qualities are added to the drink with the intended purpose of improving flavor and helping the beer mature. This is similar to how mixers added to neutral alcohol can make it acidic.
However, if you suffer from Acid Reflux, GERD, or Heartburn, it doesn't mean you have to completely live without beer. There is a good variety of beer made in ways that makes them less acidic and therefore less likely to impact your symptoms.
They still need to be consumed in moderation, but it makes consuming them a lot less likely to cause painful conditions.
So let’s take a look at what beers are best for helping this condition.
What Beers Are Best For Acid Reflux, GERD, And Heartburn
The two best types of beer for lessening the symptoms of Acid Reflux, GERD, And Heartburn are Barley Malt Lager and Barley wine.
By using barley malts in brewing, these types of beers have a generally higher pH, making them less acidic but keeping them just as delicious as any other beers.
Barley Malt Lager
Barley Malt Lager generally has a less acidic pH, ranging between 4.0 to 5.0. The types of beer using this style of brewing are Pilsner, Vienna, and Helles style malt.
- Pilsner Malt Beer
Pilsner malt is made from two-row barley malt and generally creates a pale beer with average bitterness and alcohol content of around 4.5 - 5.5 ABV%.
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This light dry beer is touted as the ‘original pilsner’ beer from a brewery based in the Czech Republic. It has an ABV of 4.4% and is recommended to be served at 40-45° F
Vienna Malt Beer
This distinctive red-brownish color brew is described as having a pleasant malty aroma and a slight sweetness. It generally has an ABV% of 4.5 - 5.5.
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Helles Malt Beer
This pale soft brew is often described as complex with a full body and a touch of sweetness. It is the palest style of beer discussed and has an ABV typically between 4.8-5.6%.
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This light lager is described as the “purest expression of malt”. It is known to Bavarians simply as "lager bier" meant to toe the line between bland and sublime. It has an ABV% of 5.5.
This beer is described as feeling similar to a barleywine or mead and has a much higher ABV% of 14%.
Described as an interesting beer worth trying, it has a sweetness that overcomes the typical drying sensation of beer.
Similar to Barley Malt Lagers, Barleywine is made with the low-acidity malts. It’s a stronger ale sharing the complexity of its namesake, wine.
Without its acidity. Barley wines typically have around 5.3-5.8 pH. It is generally more bitter than average and with an above average ABV% range, usually between 8.5-12.2%
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With a ‘full malt taste’ and ‘pleasant notes of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit’ this barley wine has an ABV% of 10.4%. The Utah based brewery advertises that it pairs well with blue cheese.
This Nebraskan Barley wine uses a distinctive brown sugar to give the barley wine a molasses style flavor as well as a boost to the alcohol.
The ABV% of the drink is 12.1% and is described as having a slight sweetness.
What Beers To Avoid For Acid Reflux, GERD, And Heartburn
The main attribute to avoid when drinking Beer with Acid Reflux, GERD or Heartburn is a high acidity.
As seen in the better beers, a lighter malt is preferable to a darker malt, so you can use this as a visual sign for if the drink could induce symptoms.
It is also worth looking at the drink's flavor profile or description. Certain flavorings are notorious for causing Acid Reflux to flare up, like; citrus and chocolate.
These are both common flavorings for beer, so if you notice them, try to avoid them.
Here is a list of some specific examples of beers to avoid:
Stouts: This type of beer generally has a pH between 3.0-5.5 and brewed with a darker malt. Porter beers are also similar to this.
Sour beers and Lambic beers: These beers have a pH of 3.0-3.5 because in the brewing process these beers are likely to produce lactic acid.
Berliner Weisse: These beers are brewed with the intention of being sour, so their pH follows this, having an acidity level of 3.3-3.7. They are often brewed with fruit as well, which is very likely to lower the pH.
So when looking for a beer to help with Acid Reflux, GERD, or Heartburn, keep in mind the acidity of the beer and look for obvious factors like how pale a beer is, its carbonation, or its flavorings as signs of its acidity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Acid Reflux (What Else Can Cause It):
Acid Reflux is caused by a weakness or over-relaxation of the valve at the bottom of the esophagus, separating the esophagus and the stomach.
This valve is intended to shut tightly after food and drink enters the stomach, but after ingesting certain foods it can become weakened or too relaxed.
Because of this, the acidic contents of the stomach can re-enter the esophagus and create an uncomfortable burning sensation.
This burning sensation is often accompanied by Heartburn. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a worse version of Acid Reflux and has the possibility to worsen over time.
Worsened symptoms of GERD include; trouble swallowing, intense chest pains, vomiting, hoarseness and intense heartburn.
Initial Acid Reflux can be a sign of GERD developing, so if you feel symptoms becoming common, contact a doctor and avoid foods which can worsen the condition.
The main type of food and drink which can affect the weakness of the esophageal valve are acidic foods and drink. Some common medicines like anti-depressants and painkillers can also cause symptoms.
Why Can Beer Affect These Conditions?
Certain beers can intensely trigger Acid Reflux and the symptoms of GERD because of their acidity.
Many beers are brewed with the intention for a sour acidic taste because for those who don’t suffer from Acid Reflux the flavor can be pleasant.
Even unintentionally, the brewing methods of beer can cause the acidity of a beer to rise and its pH to lower.
This means that beer lovers who suffer from Acid Reflux, GERD, or Heartburn need to be aware of what they are drinking and look out for drinks which can worsen their condition.
The general sign to look for (however these rules have exceptions, and it is always worth checking other factors) is the color of the beer.
A darker malt usually has a lower (more acidic) pH while a lighter malt usually has a higher (less acidic) pH.
As well as this, looking to see if the drink has a flavoring like citrus can be a sign of a high acidity, even in a lighter malt. Also, a more carbonated drink is more likely to cause Acid Reflux as well.
How Many Beers Can You Drink With Acid Reflux, GERD, Or Heartburn?
It is generally recommended to limit oneself to a single 12 ounce serving of alcohol daily to alleviate the symptoms of Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn.
Even if you are limiting yourself to higher pH beer, it is still worth trying to stay within this limit to avoid painful symptoms.
Even these ‘higher pH’ alcohols still have a lower pH than a lot of non-alcoholic beverages and are a better alternative for dealing with symptoms.
When To Drink To Avoid Symptoms?
It is best to avoid drinking or eating foods which can cause Acid Reflux, GERD, or Heartburn about 3 hours before sleeping.
This is because lying down can raise the chances that the uncomfortable contents of the stomach have a higher chance of making contact with, and potentially breaching, a loosened or weakened esophageal valve.
This can cause intense pain and discomfort when it can be avoided, so it is best to avoid having these foods and drinks close to when you know you’re sleeping.
Or, if you have had them, maybe push back sleeping as long as possible to give a chance for your esophageal valve to strengthen.
How To Treat Acid Reflux, GERD, And Heartburn?
The best way to avoid symptoms of Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn in the long term is lifestyle changes.
Keeping a balanced diet can stop the stomach from producing excess acid. You should also consider avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol or smoking.
Also, making sure to thoroughly chew food makes sure to not damage the integrity of the esophageal valve with large chunks of food. This will also aid generally in the digestion of food.
There are more specific quicker changes that can be made to avoid immediate symptoms like elevating the head of your bed, not eating close to when you plan to sleep, and to avoid tighter fitting clothing.
There is specific medication that can be prescribed for Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn respectively and if you believe your symptoms are bad enough, this can definitely justify seeking a doctor to get a specific prescription.
However, even if you are on medication, keeping with the specific lifestyle changes will improve your results and overall health.
What Is The pH Scale?
The pH scale is a measurement of the state of a solution between pH 0 and pH 14 with pH 7 being neutral. The best example of a neutral liquid is water.
The closer a solution is to pH 0 the more acidic it is, and the closer a solution is to pH 14 the more alkaline it is.
At the extreme ends of the spectrum solutions can be incredibly dangerous, but the closer a solution is to 7, the safer it is for consumption.
Many remedies for excess stomach acidity are often more alkaline than average to cancel out and neutralize the acidity causing problems.