On Twitter, It’s Beer Before Liquor

By Neuroskeptic | August 10, 2012 4:16 pm

People tweet about beer in the evenings, especially on Fridays, according to a not-very-surprising-but-still-fun little report in the journal Epidemiology: Using Twitter to Measure Behavior Patterns

The study used timeu.se, a free searchable database of millions of Tweets. The site grew out of an excellent bit of research you might remember from last year that examined how average mood varies over the course of the day and year.

People tweet about and presumably drink beer (and wine) most in the evenings, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Smoking-related tweets however were mostly flat, although there did seem to be a small peak in the mornings.

So I ran a few searches of my own, and I noticed that different drinks peak at different times. “Beer” is most popular in the early evening, closely followed by “Wine”, but “Vodka” doesn’t max out until midnight.

Looks like people are not following the old “beer before liquor, never sicker” rule.

Also, while wine gets the most tweets during the week, beer and vodka really take off at the weekend.

 ResearchBlogging.orgCunningham A. John (2012). Using Twitter to Measure Behavior Patterns Epidemiology DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182625e5d

CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, drugs, funny, methods, papers
  • Nitpicker

    This is perfectly in accordance with another rule (which is more common in other countries, incidentally): “Beer before wine, that is fine. Wine before beer, I feel queer.” 😉

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06647064768789308157 Neuroskeptic

    I hadn't heard that one!

    You're probably safe with beer and wine anyway. It's when spirits get involved that problems arise 😉

  • Nitpicker

    For a long time people have been telling me that one should always increase the alcohol content of your drinks as you progress, so from cider to beer to wine to vodka rather than the opposite direction. I can't remember what the reason for this was supposed to be. Perhaps that the body gets used to the level of alcohol in your intake? But that still doesn't explain why it makes you sick to reduce it.

    Either way, it's a myth. The only thing that makes you sick is the amount of alcohol consumed per unit time. Plus any additives that may be in the drink in question.

    Changing gears though, what is really the newsworthy here is just how much information seems to be available within analysing social networking data. I think you should publish the beer-wine-vodka tweet relationship, it's kinda cool! Although then again this would break the veil of anonymity of the Neuroskeptic so perhaps you better don't 😉

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06647064768789308157 Neuroskeptic

    Hmm. I heard a different rationale, which was that it's about sugar content… something like, if you start with beer and then add liquor, the sugar in the beer in your stomach makes the liquor get absorbed faster.

    Which I'm sure is total rubbish. People do have weird beliefs about alcohol.

  • Anonymous

    There is also an explanation which suggests that moving from high to low alcohol concentration leads to increased dehydration. Although, I suspect the best explanation is that any effects associated with systematic variations in the temporal order of drink consumption are likely to be dwarfed by the huge effect of total volume of alcohol consumed. All this trivia about drink consumption order is really just a fun way for people who continually overindulge to rationalize away the obvious solution to the problem: drink less alcohol.

  • Anonymous

    I think you have it backwards. Where I grew up it was “whiSkey on (after) beer, never fear” and “beer on whiskey, kinda risky” ie, it's better to start with beer and end up with spirits…



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Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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