While we're still reeling from the fact that hops can give you man boobs, it seems like a very small price to pay in return for their insomnia-, menopause-, and cancer-fighting properties—not to mention a bitter, refreshing buzz.
Now, it would seem that the very liver damage caused by said buzz can be minimized by hoppy beers. According to a recent study looking at the impacts of "acute ingestion" of alcohol, beer seems to be less harmful to the liver than straight alcohol and even hop-less beer.
Scientists used a "binge-drinking mouse model" in this study, meaning that they got a bunch of mice fucked up on beer with hops, beer without hops, and straight ethanol alcohol, while a fourth group was given a neutral "control" solution.
They found that 12 hours after being administered these respective solutions, the mice who had the beer with hops had less fat in their livers than those who were given straight alcohol. More interestingly, the mice who had the beer without hops had just as much fat on their livers as the ethanol group, meaning that it was the hops and not the beer per se that helped the liver.
Published Oxford's Alcohol and Alcoholism journal, authors of the study wrote that "taken together, our data suggest that hops in beer markedly attenuated acute alcohol-induced liver steatosis [fatty liver]."
These findings could also explain why hard alcohol can do more damage to the liver than beer, despite the fact that alcohol is the causal factor in liver damage.
You might be skeptical as to how a mice-based experiment applies to the slightly more complex phenomenon of human drinking, but as we've seen in earlier research, alcohol is not inherently bad for your liver. An earlier research looking at wine found that it helped boost the metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells, which actually helped improve liver function in people who are overweight.
Thanks to scientists, we are slowly uncovering the mysteries of alcohol, and thankfully, the future isn't hop-less. Let's pour an IPA to that.