Auto-brewery syndrome: The home brewed gut microbiome

Have you ever considered brewing your own beer? No? Well neither had the 46-year-old man who found himself with auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) following a course of antibiotics. This syndrome caused alcohol to ferment in his gut whenever he consumed carbohydrates and meant he suffered with ‘brain fog’, depression, aggressive behaviour and memory loss.

This particular case of auto-brewery syndrome was due to an abnormal number of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as brewer’s yeast (1), in his excrement. S. cerevisiae is a microbe known to ferment carbohydrates and is commonly used in the production of beer and wine.

In a strange turn of events, the 46-year-old man was diagnosed following a breathalyser test from a policeman who suspected he was drunk driving. Unknowingly, he actually was, with a blood alcohol level of 200mg/dL – which is equivalent to having drunk about ten alcoholic drinks. Confused as to why he had such high alcohol levels having not touched a drop of alcohol, he sought medical help. The colonization of S. cerevisiae in the man’s gut was thanks to a course of antibiotics which changed his gut microbiome profile.

While this condition is rare, it shows us the power of mighty microbe.

Discover more microbiome stories, from bioluminescent microorganisms to the microbiome of astronauts

Auto-brewery syndrome


[1] Science Alert – A man’s gut made him extremely drunk by brewing alcohol when he ate carbs

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