How to

7 October 2016

Debunking the ‘Beer Jacket’ – How Alcohol Affects Body Temperature

It’s a commonly heard phrase when outside temperatures drop on a night out: “No worries, I’ll just pop on a beer jacket!”, the drunken crowds state enthusiastically. You’ve probably noticed yourself that the more alcohol you consume, the less you seem to feel the cold, and dogs carrying small brandy barrels have long been seen throughout alpine resorts. However, is there actually any truth behind it? Or is this just another case of alcohol warping your judgement?

Sorry to rain on your parade, but it is in fact complete nonsense. That being said, there is a genuine explanation for why you may feel warmer when intoxicated.

So, why exactly does alcohol seem to increase your temperature, when it is actually having the complete opposite effect?

The answer lies in the way alcohol reacts with your body. The alcohol itself has a noticeable effect on your blood vessels, diluting and expanding them as you continue to consume your way towards incoherent. This causes an increase of blood flow to the skin, which in turn carries with it extra heat, accounting for the warm sensation people often experience when drinking alcohol.

Unfortunately, as anyone familiar with the laws of thermal convection will attest, bringing all that blood to the surface can only really have one effect – your body temperature will drop. This is primarily due to the increased surface area over which the blood is further exposed to cold conditions, which allows the heat to escape at a much quicker rate.

So, next time you’re hitting the town on a cold night, ignore the ‘beer jacket’ and reach for a real one instead. I guarantee it will be more effective.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.