How Drinking Alcohol Can Make You More Creative

Photo: Courtesy of CP+B Copenhagen/Rocket Brewing Co.
We're very familiar with the effects of alcohol — both good and bad. Turns out there's a lesser-known potential benefit of the elixir: increased creativity. There's also a cleverly-designed beer bottle that does double duty by letting you know when you've drunk enough to hit that creative peak, says Fast Company.
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The beer, an IPA called the "Problem Solver," claims to get you to the perfect blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for peak creativity. Created by Rocket Brewing Co. and the agency CP+B Copenhagen, the Problem Solver's bottle displays markers indicating how much of the beer you need to drink to make it to that sweet-spot BAC (based on your weight).
For many, being able to get tipsy and somehow produce better work sounds too good to be true. But, there is a bit of evidence to back it up. For instance, in one small study, 40 male participants completed a set of creative problem-solving tests. Half of them did so at a BAC of 0.075%, which was achieved by drinking three doses of Smirnoff vodka and cranberry juice while watching Ratatouille. (You know, classic research procedure.) The other 20 participants watched the movie and completed the tasks while sober. Those who were intoxicated solved more of the problems in less time than the sober dudes.
In another study from the same researchers, this one published last year, participants who were kept at a BAC level between 0.071 and 0.082 performed worse on tasks requiring attentional control than those who were sober. On the questions they got right, however, the intoxicated participants answered faster than the sober ones. The authors suggest alcohol might actually help in some contexts (such as creative problem solving) because it keeps us from overthinking and allows our natural attentional focus to come through.
The idea is similar to the notion of a "Ballmer Peak," the narrow BAC range within which programmers perform extraordinarily well. This is, of course, not an endorsement to start drinking regularly. Still, if you're looking for a creative boost, it could very well come from sipping some beer — although the exact "creative peak" BAC range is a little murky, and its effects probably differ between individuals. Then again, those of you in Iowa probably already knew that.