How many craft beers until you blow a 0.08? We found out for you (it’s surprisingly few)

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(Note: This is not perfectly scientific and, of course, everybody reacts to alcohol differently. Be smart; don’t be an idiot).

It’s eye-opening how few hoppy beers you can consume before blowing a 0.08.

You meet friend at a brewery. You drink a few beers. You feel kind of funny, but you only had a few.

Are you drunk?

Can you legally drive?

Given that Charlotte’s brewery scene has become the new public space for everyone from church groups to business meetings to toddler birthday parties, Charlotteans are facing the above questions with greater and greater frequency.

The majority of popular craft beers aren’t low-gravity pilsners. This means the beers have a higher alcohol by volume (ABV for short). For example, Bud Light has an ABV of 4.2% while the Countryside IPA from Sycamore has an ABV of 6%.

Basically, craft beer gets you drunk faster than your typical day drinking light beer.

Because we’ve got the Agenda reader’s back, we did what any Pulitzer Prize investigative journalism team would do — Kylie, Mary and I got drunk at Selwyn Pub.


Before we begin, here’s a brief refresher on blood alcohol content levels, with info from my BACtrack instruction manual.

  • 0.02% – 0.03% — Slight euphoria. Loss of shyness. Depressant effects are not apparent. Impairment possible in some individuals.
  • 0.04% – 0.06% — Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions and sensations of warmth. Euphoria. Some minor impairment or reasoning and memory. Lowering of caution.
  • 0.07% – 0.09% — Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing. Euphoria. Judgment and self-control are reduced. Caution, reason and memory are impaired.
  • 0.10% – 0.12% — Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred. Balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria.
  • 0.13% – 0.15% — Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control. Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reduced and dysphoria (anxiety, restlessness) is beginning to appear.
  • 0.16% – 0.20% — Dysphoria predominates. Nausea may appear.
  • 0.25% — Needs assistance walking. Total mental confusion. Dysphoria with nausea and some vomiting.
  • .30% — Loss of consciousness.
  • .40%+ — Onset of coma. Possible death.
craft-beer-breathalyzer-charlotte-nc

In preparation, I purchased a premium breathalyzer on Amazon for about $100.


How many beers until we each blew 0.08? Here’s a look at each person’s experience.

Ted Williams

Age: 33, height 5’7″

Average drinks per week: 5 – 10

Lunch: Delicious, football-sized Chicken Torta from Sav Way on Central Avenue. My stomach was full of torta upon arrival at Selwyn.

Beer: Hop Drop ‘n Roll from NoDa Brewing. 7.2% ABV.

Play-by-play:

  • First Hop Drop consumed in 18 minutes (I came thirsty). Blew a .026
  • Second Hop Drop consumed 37 minutes after finished the first. Blew a .068
  • Third Hop Drop consumed 35 minutes after finishing the second. Blew a .112. Officially drunk after an hour and a half of drinking.

Observations:

  • Full stomach. Without eating a large meal beforehand (think happy hour), I’m guessing I would have been over .08 after just two Hop Drop ‘n Rolls at what I consider my normal pace.
  • Third beer. Sure, I was quantifiably drunk after that third beer, but I also could feel the drunkness hit hard, suddenly.
drinking-driving-selwyn-pub

After just 2 Hop Drops over the course of an hour, I blew a .068.


Mary Gross

Age: 30, height 5’7″

Average drinks per week: 0-20 depending on the week

Lunch: Didn’t eat anything until I got to Selwyn at 2 p.m. due to a painful post-Roxbury hangover. Ordered mini sliders and fries which brought me back from death’s door.

Beer: Jam Session from NoDa Brewing. 5.1% ABV

Play-by play:

  • First Jam Session consumed in 19 minutes. Worst 19 minutes of my life. Blew a .016
  • Second Jam Session consumed 40 minutes after my first beer. Feeling better and blew a .082
  • Third Jam Session consumed 26 minutes later. Blew a .12 and hangover is officially gone.

Insights:

  • Conversation volume. Ted started talk-yelling during his second beer.
  • Speed. I went from .01 to .08 in 40 minutes. Not sure if the four buttery nipple shots the night before had anything to do with it (aka the Shampoo Effect) but I wasn’t expecting such a fast jump in drunkenness.
  • Laughter. I could tell I was getting drunk after my second Jam Session because I started to giggle a lot and I’m not a big giggler. Also, I was very interested when Ted started talking about media trends which would never happen when I’m sober.
breathalyzer-at-selwyn-pub-charlotte

Mary blew a .082 after consuming two NoDa Jam Sessions over the course of an hour.


Kylie Moore

Age: 24, 5’11” (probably 6′ if I’m being honest with myself, which I never am)

Average drinks per week: Two or three glasses of wine during the week, but on the weekend, there’s no telling. It all just depends. I’d say 5-8 on a normal night out. At what point does the number become concerning?

Breakfast: Avocado toast with poached eggs, yogurt, granola and English breakfast tea because I am a millennial and love making breakfast on Saturday morning.

Lunch: Admittedly did not eat lunch because breakfast was so large, but didn’t think this was a problem until I had one beer and immediately blew a .03. Ordered some food to get myself back on track.

Beer: Copper from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. 4.8% ABV

Play-by-Play:

  • First Copper consumed in about 30 minutes (finished at 2:30 p.m.). Blew a .03 and kind of surprised myself.
  • Second Copper consumed in 36 minutes after the first. I blew a .04 at 3:20. I’m glad it wasn’t another dramatic-feeling jump.
  • Third Copper consumed 34 minutes after the second,  and blew a .076. I didn’t feel drunk until I stood up. At that point, I wouldn’t have driven, but had I had lunch, I don’t think I would have felt like I was almost at the legal limit and maybe would have driven home, so that’s giving me some pause.
  • Fourth Copper consumed 41 minutes later. I blew a .106. Wow. So after four beers over two hours or so, I was officially drunk, which happened far more quickly than I expected.

Insights:

  • Bad conversation. My drinking started to get a little faster when we starting talking about our thoughts on children and family size. Note: Don’t drink craft beer around bad conversationalists unless you’re prepared to get drunk.
  • Legal limit. It’s surprising how quickly you hit the legal limit. I never see a reason to not Uber if you know you’ll be drinking.

beer-at-selwyn-pub-charlotte

It only took two or three beers to be around blowing a .08. It’s never worth saying, “I only had a couple of beers” when it means putting others in danger.

Yes, for the record, we got a ride home.

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"It's good. I promise." - Ted   Ted Williams
Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).