It sounds a little like some kind of festive super-power: a rare disorder in which your body essentially manufactures its own alcohol. It's not all that great, though, if one of the side-effects is ending up in court fighting a charge of driving under the influence (DUI). A woman from upstate New York went through that ordeal—and let's give it up to her because she managed to convince the court her belly really does aid in jacking up her blood alcohol levels to a ridiculous degree.
The unnamed woman proved to a judge that she had auto-brewery syndrome, a.k.a. gut-fermentation syndrome. Few people ever have to deal with the disorder, but those who do have a special type of yeast in their gut that aids in fermenting carbs inside the small intestine. Ethanol makes its way straight to the bloodstream. If someone is a walking brewery they can also experience the symptoms of frequent alcohol consumption, like dry mouth, feeling woozy—and of course our hammer-wielding asshole pal, the hangover.
Joseph Marusak, the attorney for the woman who beat the DUI charge, told CNN he'd "never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case" but had an inkling something was off "when the hospital police took the woman to wanted to release her immediately because she wasn't exhibiting any symptoms."
While the case against Marusak's client was dismissed, the lawyer also told CNN he believes the Erie County, N.Y. District Attorney plans to appeal that dismissal.
In 2014 Vice interviewed Matthew Hogg, a man who'd been fighting auto-brewery syndrome for decades. "It's had a huge and devastating impact on my life," Hogg told Vice, "Up until the age of 16, I was a straight-A student, and I found academic work enjoyable and rewarding. I was also a keen athlete and sportsman, and I had a great social life. As the auto-brewery syndrome began to assert itself, all of this changed." Hogg went on to list all the negative impacts the syndrome had on his life, including feeling "alone and detached from my friends" and lacking "the energy and motivation to be a part of things."
While she's waiting to see if she'll have to fight her DUI rap in court again, Joseph Marusak's client is taking anti-fungal meds and is on a special sugar-free, yeast-free, no-booze diet.
So as awesome as it might sound in the abstract, the reality of auto-brewery syndrome is this: it sucks to feel drunk all the time, and what you have to do to fight it is the polar opposite of fun.