Mamma Beer was developed by a breast cancer charity in collaboration with a brewery in Prague.
One of the many difficult side effects of breast cancer treatment is the impact it can have on your sense of taste and smell. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause some food and drink to taste bitter, metallic, excessively salty or sweet or even rancid; even water can be too unpleasant to drink. Cancer treatment can also flatten out differences in flavours, so everything ends up tasting more or less the same – and aside from its sway over your taste buds, it can cause physical sensations that make it hard to eat, such as nausea, low appetite or difficulty chewing and swallowing.
These effects are usually temporary. But that doesn’t change the fact that it seems particularly cruel – at a time that’s already extraordinarily tough – to be denied the pleasure of your favourite foods.
In a bid to make drinking more enjoyable for breast cancer patients, a charity and a brewery have teamed up to create a beer especially for women undergoing chemotherapy. Mamma Beer is a limited-edition, alcohol-free brew with a sweet flavour, specifically developed to appeal to people whose tastes have changed during breast cancer treatment.
Not all breast cancer patients experience palate changes in the same way during chemo. However, the creators of Mamma Beer say that traditional beer often “tastes too bitter for chemo patients – and it’s alcoholic”.
As well as being non-alcoholic, Mamma Beer is also fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and potassium, to help patients get the nutrients they need if they can’t stomach solid food.
The beer is the brainchild of Mamma Help, a Czech breast cancer charity run by women who have survived the disease. Mamma Help collaborated with Zatec Brewery in Prague and creative agency Y&R Prague to create the beer, which has been dispensed through local pharmacies and handed out for free at oncology hospitals in the Czech Republic.
According to Breast Cancer Care, people going through chemotherapy may experience taste changes. They may prefer to eat strongly-flavoured foods using lots of herbs and spices if food tastes bland (although very spicy foods may inflame a sore mouth). If you don’t like the taste of water, don’t feel like eating solid food, or you’re experiencing nausea, try smoothies, juice or soup. Using plastic cutlery and glass pots and pans to cook with can also help reduce the metallic taste that is a common side-effect of chemotherapy.
At the moment, Mamma Beer is only available in the Czech Republic. We’ve reached out to Mamma Help to find out if there are any plans to bring it to the UK, and will update this article accordingly.