The Creativity Cocktail

No matter what you’re talking about, there always seems to be two distinct camps. You can be in one or the other, but not both. You can love The Beatles or Elvis Presley. New York City or Los Angeles. Bert or Ernie. Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. Zombies or vampires. Beer or wine (the answer is beer).

In fact, there comes a time in every day when no matter what the question, the answer is beer. That’s a fact. Beer can do everything. It can make you better in bed, tastes great (well...some of it anyway), makes hanging out with friends and watching the game truly epic, and has been bringing people together for thousands of years...longer than wine (suck it, merlot!).

An authority no less than Cheers informs us of a little-known beer fact: much like a predator going after the weakest and slowest members of a buffalo herd, beer goes after the slowest and weakest brain cells first.

“In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

’Cliff Clavin’

Logic and common sense, right there. Iron-clad and irrefutable.

Always go with beer. Drink more beer. Beer or anything? Beer. Until today. Now, when faced with a choice between coffee or beer, the answer is apparently both.

Coffee is no slouch. Besides delivering a much-needed caffeine punch in the morning (and mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, just before heading home, after supper, and late at night), new studies are revealing a plethora of additional health benefits. It’s full of antioxidants, lowers the risk of liver disease, helps burn fat, fights depression, and makes you happier. Yay, coffee!

So they’re both fantastic. They’re both delicious, and social (how many times have you said “let’s meet for coffee” or “let’s meet for a beer”?), and beneficial. Personally, I spend half my day wondering if it’s too late for another coffee, and the other half wondering if it’s too early for a beer.

But now, I don’t have to decide. I can have both, and if anyone dares to question or raise an eyebrow, I have a scientifically-backed and legitimate reason for consuming vast quantities of them, and at all times. I use them for my creativity and problem solving. Used together, I can get shit done. Mikael Cho explains it all in Coffee vs. Beer: Which Drink Makes You More Creative? (psst...the answer is both, taken in moderation, and coffee after beer).  

See Also: 8 Bizarre Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

1. The Dilemma

the dilemma

The next time you have a problem, obstacle, or task that requires some creative thinking, beer and coffee just might be your best friends (as if they’re not already). Creativity is often described as combining and connecting ideas in new and original ways. Like seeing something old and familiar in a completely different way.

Your creativity, then, relies on your brain’s ability to experiment, to play, to ask “what if?” and imagine new scenarios and connections between existing ideas.

But that takes hard work, effort, and concentration, and we have those in limited quantities. You can’t focus on something indefinitely. You eventually run out of steam. We all know and experience this at the time.

Enter beer and coffee.

2. The Solution

So, you need to find ways to a) increase your brain’s experimentation, and b) extend your focus and energy.

And that, my friends, is what beer and coffee were put on this planet to do.

3. Beer's Effect

Like the best of friends, beer works to free you from distraction. What does your BFF do when you break up with someone, or suffer a setback at work, or have a fight with your parents? They take you out to get your mind off of it.

Beer is that best friend to your cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls language and conscious thought. Alcohol makes you less focused and reduces your working memory (basically used for what’s happening around you, what’s been said, and what’s going on at the moment). In short, it works to remove distractions. And what happens to a distraction-free cerebral cortex? It starts to make new connections. It generates new ideas. Instant creativity.

But only up to a point. Obviously, the more alcohol you consume, the more intoxicated you become. This creativity sweet spot seems to happen at about a blood-alcohol level of 0.07. More than that, and you lose the creativity benefit (and shouldn’t be driving, so put down your keys).

Sadly, finding your BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) isn’t so simple. Age, gender, weight, and a number of other variables makes it different for everyone. A BAC of 0.07 is somewhere around two beers, give or take.

Or you could get yourself The Problem Solver Beer. Their slogan: A delicious way to reach your creative peak. The ideal state for solving problems.

This delicious IPA (India Pale Ale) has a handy reference chart on the back of the bottle. Crack it open, drink until you reach the line with your weight on it, and stop. You’re now at the sweet spot.

It’s only a matter of time before your eureka moment.

Alcohol’s effect on creativity is well documented. A University of Illinois at Chicago study found subjects with a slight buzz on solved 40% more problems that required creative thinking than their teetotaler counterparts. Another study involved advertising execs split into two teams: one was giving alcohol, and the other was not. The team with a healthy buzz came up with more and better ideas as judged by an impartial panel.

Beer makes you less concerned with what’s going on around you and old ideas. The brain feels ready to play.

But it does lower your focus and concentration.

Enter coffee.

4. Coffee's Effect

We know what coffee does for us. It’s a boost of energy and focus. And that’s exactly what you need once you come up with an idea after drinking a couple of brewskis. The beer delivered the idea or solution you needed. But, now you have to put it into action, and it has you feeling a little drained, drowsy, and scatterbrained.  

Coffee to the rescue. The Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors in your brain and makes you feel like you’ve got energy to spare...even when you don’t. You’re pumped, focused, and ready to get to work.

5. The Perfect Couple

So beer helps you come up with an idea, and once you have it and a plan to implement it, coffee gives you the energy and focus on getting it done. The perfect duo. Like Batman and Robin, but with more flavour and fewer spandex tights.

See Also: 7 Strangest Ways to Market Beer

The trick is in the execution. Too much beer, and you won’t be creative (or upright, for that matter). If the task requires abstract thinking, the coffee won’t help.

To work, you have to hit roughly 0.07 BAC (roughly two beers), and the task afterwards can’t require fancy, high-falutin’ thinking. Check out I Love Coffee’s infographic for a visual representation. Or use this handy and soon-to-be famous rhyme to help you remember: Beer then coffee, feeling createe (I admit it’s not perfect).

What’s your go-to beverage when you need to get your creative juices flowing? Beer, coffee, something else? Leave your comments below...


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