Beer, Breweries, and Blood Glucose

I enjoy good beer. Actually, I love good beer.

I live in a state with over 50 microbreweries[1], which isn’t something I take for granted. See, few things are as enjoyable to me as a Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Sapient Trip Ale, or their Crooked Tree I.P.A. If you place a pint of Dragonmead Microbrewery’s Final Absolution Belgian Style Tripel on the table in front of me, my mouth will begin to water. I eagerly await Bell’s Brewery’s Sparkling Ale when it’s in season. And I live just a short two-block walk from the Corner Brewery[2], which makes many of my favorite beers: Sacred Cow I.P.A., Phat Abbot Belgian Tripel, and Strawberry Blonde — and yes, if you happened to click on the Corner link, that’s me in the photograph on their homepage.

But I also have Type 1 diabetes[3]. Bummer, right? I mean, that right there — diabetes — would be enough for many people to say “Stop the beer consumption!” But will I put the kibosh on partaking of this plethora of wonderful, accessible beer? No, dear readers. No, I won’t.

I’ve heard it from friends and family. I’ve had people comment on this blog in the past. I’ve read online the screeds of many people with diabetes who are anti-alcohol.

That’s fine. But that’s not me.

I’m not advocating anyone incorporate great beer into his or her self-management regimen. There is no doubt that alcohol and diabetes don’t mix incredibly well. I do not deny this. After all, when I drink beer, my liver turns its focus to getting rid of the alcohol in the beer instead of helping to regulate my blood glucose. This means I have to be careful about how I approach a life that involves an ill-functioning pancreas, the infusion of insulin, and the imbibing of beer.

I’ve learned during my three and a half years coexisting with diabetes that I am able drink responsibly, moderately, and safely, without problems or ill effects on my health, and without adverse affects on my blood glucose. How? Oh, that’s a long, long story. In short: practice, awareness, observation, and, quite honestly, a mentality that means always, regardless of whether it’s one, or two, or three beers — and never more than three, and that would be over four or five hours of an evening — I don’t forget that I am a person who has diabetes who is drinking this beer. I do not forget, even though I can be in the company of friends or at breweries who have great beers to offer, who have no shortage of new varieties to sample, that I am not them. I am not a normal beer drinker. I have diabetes.

So, yes, while I won’t go into detail about how I came to be able to enjoy a pint or two safely — because what works for me might not work for you — it can be done. There are resources out there that explain in-depth how you should approach alcohol if you have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has a page on alcohol[4]. I like this page[5] from about the mixing of Type 1 diabetes and alcohol. And Diabetes Self-Management blogger Amy Campbell has written a series of entries entitled Diabetes and Alcohol: Do the Two Mix?[6]

And maybe the most important thing if you drink: discuss the topic with your endocrinologist and primary-care physician. I’ve talked about it with my doctors. I’m not trying to hide anything. Because liking beer even though I have diabetes doesn’t mean I should feel stigmatized, or guilty, or think I’m doing something I ought not to be doing.


  1. over 50 microbreweries:
  2. Corner Brewery:
  3. Type 1 diabetes:
  4. alcohol:
  5. this page:
  6. Diabetes and Alcohol: Do the Two Mix?:

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.