There was an article in the New York Times that is worth sharing with our Bay Area beer crowd.
It’s an oft-repeated saying, based on the notion that lower oxygen levels at high altitudes impair the ability to metabolize alcohol, leading to quicker absorption and enhanced intoxication. But research suggests otherwise.
At the national convention last week in the mile-high city of Denver, the New York State Democratic Party warned delegates about the potential effects of drinking alcohol there. “Remember that drinks may go to your head faster than you’re used to in New York,” it said.
Now being that Devil’s Canyon Brewery is basically at sea level, we don’t have to worry about it here. But plenty of people take our beer to Tahoe for ski trips or summer outings. The floor of the Lake Tahoe Basin is at an elevation of about 4580 ft (1396 m). With an average surface elevation of 6225 ft (1897 m) above sea level.
So what’s the deal? Are you really a cheaper date in Truckee? Well it turns out:
In a series of studies for the Federal Aviation Administration, scientists simulated the effects of altitude, performing blood alcohol tests on groups of subjects who drank under ground-level and high-altitude conditions. They found no difference.
In other studies, scientists examined people at altitudes of 12,000 feet and higher and found that such heights, without alcohol, could induce a sort of fatigue that hampers mental and physical abilities. Consuming four drinks at sea level worsened performance, much more so than altitude alone. But combining high altitude and alcohol had only a slightly greater effect on cognitive performance.
So the truth is: Higher altitude can impair some abilities, but studies suggest that it does not make alcohol more potent.
We’ll drink to that!