The pint at lunch: as much as part of British office culture as sad Pret sandwiches and arguments about the air-con. It makes everything better. But, according to a recent YouGov poll, 74 per cent of the British public consider drinking at lunchtime ‘unacceptable’ - so what if we, ol’ beer-at-lunch Joe Public, have been wrong all this time?
According to University of Illinois professor Jennifer Wiley, the average man produces his most creative thinking with a blood alcohol level of 0.075 per cent (with 0.04 per cent being the resting, pint-less average) - but what is the perfect amount of beer to make me better at my job?
I work in a creative industry so am likely more predisposed to creative thinking than the average guy, right? Writing is full of men who drank themselves half to death in search of unlocking their full imaginative potential. And anyway, I’d like to think myself a pretty decent drinker: I rarely get fall-down drunk and would like to think that I know how to exercise moderation.
The only way to settle this was science (of sorts). Under the watchful eye of HR (and my editor, who I sit next to), I would drink progressively more and more pints over the week (a single pint of beer on Monday, two on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, etc) and have the same meal (more or less) to go with it, then head back to the office for an afternoon of work to see to see how it affects my productivity and creativity, keeping a diary as I went.
Granted, not every reader is ‘lucky’ enough to be able to indulge in the mid-afternoon beverage but for those of you that are I hope this proves a handy how-to on how much lunchtime drinking is too much lunchtime drinking.
At this precise time of writing, I am already one pint deep.
[Ed’s note: to get further scientific insight into Sam’s mind during this experiment, I have left his words exactly how he typed them]
Pint: Heineken x1
Food: Lamb kofte kebab from LEON
Monday is a weird day to drink but Heineken felt like a good choice. A real beer you can set your watch by, you know? I mean, I feel great. A single pint is refreshing, isn’t it? Even when you have to roughly neck it in an unfairly busy high-street Wetherspoon's, it is a invigorating experience. I had a few minutes where I felt lucid and carefree - roughly just after the final drop had be drunk - and now I just feel fine besides my (already broken) hand. I don’t think anyone has even noticed I’ve been to the pub.
I feel fine. Or mostly fine, anyway: I feel like I can definitely hold myself accordingly if/when my boss walks in - I mean, I’ve written all this, ain’t I? Look how great all this content has been so far - but reckon that the position of ‘car driver’ might be a bit beyond me. I drunk it quite fast, if I’m honest, too fast, the excitement of a pint too much for me, and I feel like I fucked up making the lamb kofte kebab wrap from LEON my ballast all week. This is gonna ruin me by Wednesday, isn’t it?
No real change so far. If anything has altered with Sam since arriving back from his lone lunchtime pint, it’s been his conversational skills. He’s been relatively quiet.
At one point, elbow planted onto his desk, he lowered his head to touch his face, sighing into the grooves of his fingers for a brief second or two - though I’m happy to chalk that up to post-weekend fatigue.
Pint: Heineken x1 and Estrella x1
Food: Halloumi and falafel wrap from Pret
I had to drink one pint Heineken and one Estrella because they run out of Heiney but I feel fine although maybe I’m getting a bit paranoid now because when I came back to the office I felt like everyone was staring at me. Maybe I drank my first pint too fast, in like eleven minutes give or takje, but I also feel like I drank my second one in a time slow enough to make up for it. I definitely feel a lot more “boisterous” and also i fucking ate my wrap in about fifteen seconds. I really put it out in front of me too, over my keyboard, so that it didn’t ruin my jumper – I’m not an idiot.
ANyway, I would say that now would be the perfect time for me to run into an idea’s session. I never feel more stimulated than ever when I have a pint in hand, hand stool at my arse, table in front of me, someone sat there and letting me talk, maybe some Bee Gees on the radio over the pub speakers. It’s bliss. Maybe I was gesticulating more than usual earlier when I was chatting in the pub and I do this thing where I take a step back when I’m about to talk and I go like, “Well...” like I;’m about to say something incredibly interesting, but besides that nope, fine. I’m fine. Bit tired. But fine.
“Bollocks”, mutters Sam, fidgeting with a crumbly, possibly lukewarm, Pret wrap. I worried he was getting lairy, but he seems to have returned from the pub in vigorous mood.
Arching himself over his desk space to conduct office chatter, turning heads to all and various as you would over brandies at a dinner party, he’s getting a little too sociable – and yet he’s been oddly productive, filing big stories well ahead of time and coming up with solid ideas at the drop of a hat. Not what I had expected.
More like this and a two pint lunch might have to be mandatory.
Drink: Heineken x3
Food: Chicken sandiwch from, I don’t know, The Pub
It felt good to get back to a purely Heineken round, felt way more comfortable knowing where I stand like that. I also felt incredibly good coming back – althought that might have something to do with the fact there was a geezer on Leather Lane who was shouting “Free falafel!” from his stall and I was lke “Fucking right, yeah” and ate them all with a load of chilli sauce poured into a bag. But I mostly feel a sense of oneness with my ideas, like my ideas are the best now, or else I’m just better at elucidating them. I was made to write a story about that dick museum in Iceland and I nailed it so whatever they throw to me I just bat it out the park like I’m content Jose Canseco. Way better than yesterday, actually. Three beers is my jam.
I feel like I;’m going to crash though, that is imminent. It’s one of those things I just know will come back to bite me on the arse, and I’ll definitely be not reading a book or something on the train because if I wake up at the end of the Picadilly Line again, I’ll be furious. I’m also kinda worried because I’m wearing a green shirt and shaved my beard a little too short today and wonder he combination is going to give me a sort-of greenish hue that I’m going to live to regret.
Laughter. Too much laughter. I can smell the booze on him too. His hood’s up. It’s not even 2.30pm, nor chilly.
I gave him a piece to write about an Icelandic penis museum and it took longer to write than pieces on Icelandic penis museums should take. Today might be the tipping point where any boozy genius dissipates.
Case in point: earlier, Sam managed to have a conversation on our in-office messenger, Slack, all by himself – largely on the merits of whether he’d rather be a baby that looks like Danny DeVito or a man that looks like a baby:
Beer: Heineken x4
Food: Like, some chips
As soon as I got in I wanted Boston’s More Than A Feeling playing but besides that I;m totally fine, I reckon. It was mad quiet when I got back and I was a little tooo laoud but I reckon I would say it was more “illustrative” of what could’ve been; editor teid to to give me a spellinbg tell and i got 13/15 and I was like “YEAH! TAKE THAT MATE!” I wonder if four really is that magic number. I mean, I’m clearly quite drunk so I9 would need a person to tell me whether or not what I was saying made sense but also I feel so free and enegersed man.
The woman in th pub said to me “What are you doing?” and we said “doing some content that’s abut beer” and they werre just like “lol okay cool” and let us get on with it. Nobody has given me an article to work on this afternoon lke they usually do and I can only presume that’s because they are just t oo scared! I’m in prime form, man. Living my best days.
“I feel really sleepy now”, Sam confides. It’s only 3.30. This isn’t going well.
Heavy-eyed, the four pints have clearly taken their toll as he sits listening to increasingly loud music through his headphones, nodding energetically in a bid to stay awake. He did manage to pass a subbing test I gave him earlier, but now he’s staring at his computer as if he’s in the grip of some existential crisis. I’ve asked him to do some forward planning, which he’s getting on with sluggishly.
If this wasn’t being done for a feature then Sam would have been taken to a room for a serious chat about his social life and work life by now. His output has dropped off severely. Worrying times ahead tomorrow.
Pints: Peroni x5
Food: Ban-mi Vietnamese bun
Okay, not gonna lie, i’m feeling really pised now. My editor was like “I actually can’t smel much booze on you” but I know he’s just being kind. No banter but I am steaming here man, I’m struggling. It’s like, I feel like I know what I want to do but I’m just like in treacle? and I can’t get to it. Anyway, he gave me an articl about Warren Buffet to write and I just straight up jhave not done that at all. I’m just like, “I’m researching this other thing” and now everyone is left me alone.
I got back to the office and immediately requested Sean Paul and Gravel Pit by WU9 Tang Clan abnd noow we’re all cool, mate
Staff morale was briefly boosted today by the presence of a man who appears to be enjoying his own staff Christmas party, spinning around on his chair pleading people to play Lou Bega’s Mambo No.5 on the office stereo.
Perhaps that’s the work of the extra, magical, fifth pint, which – apparently – banishes the pesky mid-afternoon hangover and switches the brain into ‘big night on the town mode’. Whatever it was, it grew old pretty fast, with Sam’s raucous office behaviour quickly annoying other staff members. Sentences aren’t even falling out of his mouth properly and he’s had an averse affect on the team.
His work has reached a low point too. A few hours ago, I gave Sam a relatively simple news story to write up on Warren Buffet, and save for jokes about ‘all you can eat Buffet’, I had nothing back.
Truthfully, if Sam hadn’t been doing this for ‘research’ then I’d have flagged him to HR earlier this morning. The disciplinary action would be as follows: two counts of being intoxicated, three counts of being disruptive to the team, and five counts of being a bell-end with the office Spotify – enough to see him handed his P45 at the very least.
Two pints’ Sam is the winner.