Getting Drunk With Your Mu-Opioid Receptors

In keeping with the notion that alcohol allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things, there is evidence to suggest alcohol can also help creative people find their spark...if they're lucky enough to have the Churchill gene.

Writers have long known the glories of drinking at their trade. For millennia they have sneaked early snifters of their preferred libation with the dismissive wave of the hand that it is "noon somewhere." With that airy justification, great works of fiction and non-fiction grace the world's libraries.

Of course, some writers liked alcohol more than others. Fitzgerald and Cheever drank herculean amounts, creating lives that informed their art with autobiographical precision. Hart Crane, it has been determined posthumously, needed to be completely smashed to write. An anecdotal survey of the English canon would conclude that few teetotalers have produced much work of note.

Now a University of Colorado study has elucidated the genetic basis for those whose creativity increases proportionally to their drunkenness. Injected with alcohol, about 15 percent of the study's subjects reported abnormally high rates of happiness. These individuals carried the G-variant gene which is present in about 15 percent of Caucasians.

It's been dubbed the Churchill gene, for Winston was a man who drank hard and worked even harder. In fact, the statesman attributed the completion of his voluminous memoirs to alcohol. G-variant carriers--Churchill was suspected to be one--activate a slightly different version of the mu-opioid protein which gives them their feelings of contentment and large smiles, and drives a high percentage of them to creative pursuits.

Garrett Oliver continues in the Churchillian tradition of working hard with the help of alcohol. Oliver's metier is, fittingly, producing more alcohol. As lead brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery has has helped many a drinker reach their creative potential. His musing when he spoke to Big Think?

"How do I achieve this concept that I have?"

Well, Garrett, the secret is out.

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