Beer Is the Worst Thing to Drink Before a Big Meal According to the ‘Man v. Food’ Host
It’s a drizzly spring day in New York City and Casey Webb is staring down a burger with a split doughnut where the bun should be. He picks it up, takes a look at the dripping glaze on top and takes a bite. He washes it down with Twisted Tea Half & Half, then takes another bite. In other words, it’s just another Tuesday filled with an almost uncountable number of calories for the host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food.
If anyone knows how to combat the effects of overeating, it’s Webb. He got started in the restaurant industry working at a pizza shop in New Jersey when he was 15, and moved to New York in his early 20s. He’s worked in theater and TV, cooking and tending bar along the way. Then he landed his current role as the host of Man v. Food for the 2017 season. Suddenly, normal consumption habits were out the window as he took on a role that pitted him against ungodly amounts of food and spice. Case in point: He’s knocked back a five-and-a-half pound stack of pancakes and stomached jumbo chicken tenders coated in Carolina Reaper sauce.
We caught up with Webb at Clinton Hall in New York City to learn more about what to drink after eating more than you should have. Because when it comes to food and alcohol, there are drinks you should reach for and drinks you should avoid. Here’s advice from the guy who knows best.
On Whether It’s Better to Drink Before or After a Meal
If asked what he prefers, an aperitif or a digestif, Webb has a simple answer: Yes. He’s always been a big beer fan, and prefers to start his meal with a drink. Being a beer fan, however, isn’t exactly conducive to being a fan of eating as much food as humanly possible because the bubbles in beer and stomach space are not friends. “Carbonated beverages will catch up with you after a while—that’s it, they’ll catch up to anybody,” Webb says. He’s been working with Twisted Tea recently, and more and more he’s found himself reaching for hard tea, which has the same amount of alcohol as a light beer but none of the bubbles.
That’s when facing down a large meal on a normal day. On an eating challenge day (or just a day of overeating, for those of us who down massive amounts of food on our spare time and not for TV) digestifs are preferable to aperitifs.
“I usually save my alcoholic beverages for after the fact,” Webb says. A lot of the challenges are at bars or restaurants with bars, and the cheer squad will often buy him a drink, win or lose. He embraces those drinks and frequently has a few with the crowd. But for a guy who regularly—and purposefully—overeats, Webb preaches a lot about moderation. “When it comes to the larger capacity stuff, you have to take care of your system. You don’t want to put too much into your system outside of what the challenge is.”
On How to Drink Digestifs and Aperitifs
“Digestifs and aperitifs are very much a casual thing,” Webb says. They’re designed to be sipped, not shot, because good digestifs take time to make, “and they deserve the respect of sipping on it,” Webb says. “Otherwise you’re missing the point. A digestif is supposed to slow you down at the end of a meal and help you digest. An aperitif is supposed to lead you into your meal.”
On What to Drink After a Bunch of Pizza
Webb worked as a bartender for 10 years in New York, and one of his favorite drinks was a rocks glass full of Fernet-Branca at the end of his shift as he closed the bar. His shift drink, it turns out, is also his go-to after eating a bunch of pizza. “As a bartender, it’s always been Fernet,” Webb says. “And as a restaurant goer going out to eat, it’s going to be (an) amaro every time.”
On What to Drink with Spicy Food
“I’ll have a spicy drink and a spicy meal together,” Webb says. “I’ll go full spice, just really double down on it.” He’d never thought of himself as a chili head before, but has become one while shooting Man v. Food. “There’s a euphoria, a buzz you get when you put spicy food into your system and it’s kind of fun.”
So when it comes to spicy food, go ahead and have that Jalepeño Margarita alongside it.