Do IPAs Cause Worse Hangovers? (Alcohol Content, Hops, Sugar, and More)

Beer and hangovers seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes they are manageable and other times they make you feel like your head will burst. What is it that makes hangovers worse? Turns out it may be the type of beer you drink.

IPA beer can cause worse hangovers as opposed to other styles because it has higher concentrations of ingredients that cause hangover symptoms such as alcohol and the various other byproducts of fermentation. Additionally, IPAs have many ingredients that trigger common intolerances and allergies, including yeast, hop oils, and tannins.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to hangovers. Keep reading to learn more about why IPAs may be more likely to cause hangovers.

What causes a hangover?

From a physiological perspective, hangovers are quite fascinating. Of course, this is the last thing you want to hear when suffering from one. Depending on the severity of the hangover, you may just want to hide from the world – or at least anything bright or loud.

In spite of the negative effects, hangovers are so interesting because there are so many contributing aspects.

Hangovers are caused by alcohol, congeners, and various intolerances. These aspects affect the body by causing dehydration and poor quality (or too little) sleep which, in turn, makes you feel worse. 

This means that all beer has the capability of causing a hangover. The severity of the hangover is greatly dependent on your physiology, what you drank, and how much you drank. 


Since alcohol is a diuretic, it causes you to become dehydrated.

Dehydration on its own can cause headaches and fatigue. These symptoms without the rest can be a pain, especially if you are extremely dehydrated. It is unclear how long the diuretic effects last, but it may be as long as alcohol is in your system.

Alcohol also affects the chemicals in your brain that govern sleep. So while you will fall asleep easier you will not get quality sleep. In addition to fatigue, poor sleep can come with a host of negative effects.

Then there are the direct effects of alcohol. It can irritate your stomach which can manifest as nausea. It can also cause inflammation all over your body.


Congener is an umbrella term that covers everything produced by fermentation that isn’t ethanol or carbon dioxide. These byproducts can flavor beer in good and bad ways. 

Congeners exact effect on hangovers is difficult to pin down, but it is accepted that high concentrations worsen hangovers. For example, a beverage very high in congeners (like bourbon) is more likely to cause a severe hangover than one with virtually no congeners (vodka, for example).

One possible method that congeners do so is by adding to the burden on your liver. By adding to the liver’s workload, it slows down the metabolizing of alcohol.


The third contributor to your hangover could be an intolerance you may have. Beer contains a lot of ingredients that the body could have a hard time with.

It is possible to be intolerant to gluten, yeast, hops, histamines, tannins, and all of the congeners. The way that these intolerances show up in your body will depend on the severity, but some of the symptoms to a food intolerance resemble a hangover.

If it is an allergy and not an intolerance, the symptoms will be worse.

7 reasons that IPAs can give you a worse hangover

The question then is what is it about IPAs that makes the hangovers worse for some people? Why does a light lager not affect these individuals in the same way? 

IPAs can give you a worse hangover because of:

  • High alcohol content
  • Extra sugars
  • Higher hop oil content
  • Specific yeast strains
  • Histamines
  • Higher congener content
  • Tannin sensitivity

Let’s go over each in detail.

High alcohol content

While not every IPA has an ABV through the roof, most are on the stronger side.

IPAs do not taste particularly boozy, although they tend to have a relatively high ABV. They tend to be easier to drink more than you might with another beer.

The more that you drink, the worse your hangover symptoms will be in general. Not to mention that the more alcohol you have in your system the longer it will take to metabolize. 

Extra sugars

IPAs are characterized by their hop profiles. But without a balancing malt profile, the IPA would not be as good.

Some IPAs have a lot of residual sugars from that malt profile. This is usually the case when the yeast strain doesn’t have a high attenuation rate. All of those extra sugars contribute to the ease of drinking IPAs. The easier it is to drink, the more likely you’ll drink too much. 

This increased sugar content can also mess with your blood sugar levels, causing hangover-like effects.

Higher hop oil content

Hops contribute bitterness in the form of isomerized acids and flavor and aroma in the form of essential oils. You can react poorly to both of these ingredients.

If you develop an intolerance or discover an allergy to hop oil, you can bet on bad hangovers and headaches.

Obviously, IPAs have high concentrations of both isomerized alpha acids and hop oils. Many who discover an allergy or intolerance do so after drinking IPAs for this reason.

Specific yeast strains

Yeast is crucial to all beer. However, there are many strains of the fungus that brewers use.

There are several specific strains of yeast that are typically used by various brewers when brewing IPAs. If you have developed an intolerance to one or more of these strains, you will have worse hangovers.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction or intolerance can be different from those of a hangover. Still, they will certainly feed off each other.

To learn more about the types of yeast used in brewing IPAs, check out this article.


All beers, but in particular IPAs have histamines in them.

These histamines can cause seasonal allergy-like symptoms. With enough beer, these symptoms can last long enough to make your hangover worse. 

Taking non-drowsy antihistamines can help combat this.

Higher congener content

IPAs can contain higher levels of congeners.

While not as bad as bourbon, IPAs are one of the beverages higher up in the congener list.

As discussed above, the more congeners in a beverage, the worse your hangover will be. 

Tannin sensitivity

Tannins aren’t typically associated with beers, for good reason. Red wines can have a much higher concentration of tannins.

Tannins in beer come from hops, malt, and various adjuncts. Since IPAs are made with a lot of hops and malts, there are more tannins in IPAs than in other beers.

While not common in other beers, there can be enough tannins in an IPA for a sensitive individual to react to them.

How to get rid of a hangover faster

Though there are plenty of hangover cures across the internet and from friends, there is no way to truly cure one. The best you can do is wait and target the symptoms. In this case, time is the best medicine.

Here are a few things you can do to make things easier while you wait:

  • Don’t drink any more alcohol
  • Do drink water
  • Replenish electrolytes

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Don’t drink more alcohol

Have you ever chased a hangover away with “the hair of the dog”?

A cold beer in the morning is a common hangover remedy. However, all you’re doing is making the situation worse.

You will still feel the effects of the hangover when the beer’s alcohol leaves your system.

Drink water

After a night of drinking, you will have lost a lot of water.

Reducing the effects of dehydration only targets one aspect of the hangover. However, every little bit helps. It should at least make the hangover more manageable.

If you can, next time, try to remember to drink water before you’re hungover.

Replenish electrolytes

In addition to water levels, your electrolyte levels will have gone down.

Sports drinks like Gatorade will help restore your electrolytes.

After all, it’s got what plants crave.