Chemotherapy has many nasty side effects, and one that patients often find particularly frustrating is dysgeusia. This side effect causes food and drink to taste bland, bitter, or metallic. Now, a Prague based cancer advocacy group has come up with a solution to that problem – a non-alcoholic beer called Mama Beer.
Mamma Beer has been formulated to help breast cancer patients overcome the symptoms of dysgeusia. Its flavor profile has been engineered to make it taste good to those undergoing chemotherapy, but in addition to it’s great taste, the beer also contains a range of vitamins and minerals that have been known to help people deal with cancer treatment.
Not only does food often taste bad to chemo patients, but sometimes, they struggle to even eat at all. Jana Drexlerova, CEO of Prague-based breast cancer advocacy group Mamma Help, experienced this for herself when she went through chemotherapy. She developed painful mouth lesions, making it very difficult to eat.
“When I finally got my appetite back, all I could eat was cold tomato soup, and even that was flavorless,” Drexlerova said.
To help chemo patients get vital nutrition and vitamins, doctors may recommend drinking beer in moderation; the trouble is, dysgeusia makes beer taste incredibly bitter. Jana partnered with Tereza Sverakova (also a survivor of breast cancer) to brew a beer that is more palatable:
“We thought it would be great to develop beer specifically for women undergoing chemo–beer that has all the vitamins and nutrients, but has no alcohol and is made sweeter to kill the bitterness. A beer that would help counter this side effect of chemo and promote Mamma HELP at the same time. We approached nine breweries, but just one said yes: Zatec. It took them half a year to develop the beer. Those who tasted Mamma Beer have found it to be great. That’s the biggest reward.”
The limited edition beer is brewed to be significantly less bitter than normal beer since chemotherapy makes everything taste exceptionally bitter. It also has an addition of apple juice in order to make it taste a little bit sweeter. Like most beer, it is also a great source of potassium and vitamin B.
So far, the beer has been served at several beer and food shows and has also been distributed to oncology wards and pharmacies in the Czech Republic. The beer should also be available for purchase in supermarkets around the country at some point in the future.
Are you hoping to get hold of Mamma Beer outside of the Czech Republic? Unfortunately, it will most likely remain a Czech-only phenomenon. Czechs consume a massive 142.6 liters of beer per capita, so even a niche beer such as Mamma Beer is likely to become a success.