As Europe's bars reopen, research suggests MHBA assists cognitive function

With pubs set to open their doors, up to one million free beers await customers and experts suggest beer might help improve concentration and combat dementia.

As countries begin to ease out of lockdown and bars and pubs across Europe start to open their doors once more, hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re all able to enjoy a [socially distanced] drink with colleagues and friends. In the UK, the government has now set a target of 4 July for bars and pubs to reopen and in some quarters there is a hope that may come even sooner.

That news will serve as a welcome relief for everyone, from publicans and restaurant owners, to multinational brewers who have been forced to close their doors and face huge disruption in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Covid-19 leaves firms burning through millions

Unprecedented measures have led to unprecedented problems though. Just this week, C&C Group, the firm that owns Bulmers and Magners cider, reported that it was burning through £6.2m (€7m) each month that pubs and restaurants are closed. With 80% of its revenue coming from sales in pubs, bars and restaurants, the firm also revealed that a further €47.6m of ‘exceptional items’ were also ‘directly related to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak’. 

Fortunately, in Europe things are starting to move already. As the first bars begin to reopen there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to schemes set up by craft beer brewers and their larger counterparts, around a million free or pre-paid beers await customers.

According to Reuters, schemes such as AB InBev’s “Cafe Courage” in Belgium saw consumers purchase more than 200,000 Stella Artois, Jupiler and other brands, while others spanning 20 other markets have raised more than $6m for pubs, bars and restaurants.

BBPA forecast: 745m pints could have been sold

Of course, the schemes will not make up for the shortfall at a time when the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) believes pubs may have been set to record their best April in a decade, with pubs selling up to 745m pints. Fortunately, around 90% of British pub-goers are keen to revisit their local, with over one third of those intending to do so within a week of opening, said a study from Budweiser Brewing Co.

Further consumer encouragement comes by the way of new research from Japanese scientists at the Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine and the Fukushima Healthcare Center which reveals that beer hops are good for the brain and can actually reduce stress whilst improving mood.

The Kirin funded study, which was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, showed that matured hops bitter acid (MHBA), could also be used to help combat dementia. 

Research suggests MHBA good for SCD

Tests were carried over 12 weeks on 100 people between the ages of 45 to 69 who had demonstrated Selective Cognitive Decline (SCD), with some being given placebos and others a daily dose of MHBA. Those taking the supplement saw notable improvement in cognitive function, with scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) indicating higher attention spans and neuropsychological tests indicating lower stress levels.

"The present study results showed that MHBA supplementation improved mental processing speed, attention, and concentration and reduced mental stress after intellectual work in healthy adults aged 45 to 69 years with Selective Cognitive Decline,” said the authors.

With Kirin planning on developing a range of products that harness the power of MHBA, such studies offer a positive glimpse of what the future may hold for those in the pub, bar and restaurant trade. However, for the time being those that reopen will have to focus on ‘the now', knowing that business will not resume as before.