Beer! It's one of life's greatest guilty pleasures -- but I've never understood why you've had to feel guilty about it at all.

I've told you time and again how booze helps protect the heart, brain, and more. And now, a new study shows how beer in particular can make you smarter.

We're not talking "smarter over time" or "beer drinkers tend to be smarter" but an actual, measurable boost in problem-solving skills the moment you even smell those hops.

In a series of experiments, researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago asked 40 young men to play a drinking game. (And no, it wasn't beer pong.)

It was a word game. The researchers gave three words, and the men had to find a fourth that fits the pattern. For example, the researchers might provide "peach," "arm" and "tar" and expect the men to answer with "pit."

Just one thing about this drinking game: Only half of the men got to drink during it. They were given two pints each, while the rest had to play sober.

Turns out sobriety isn't all it's cracked up to be, because the men who had the beer solved 40 percent more word puzzles. They even did it faster, averaging 12 seconds per puzzle -- versus 15.5 seconds among the non-drinkers.

Naturally, there was also a downside. The researchers say that while a blood alcohol level of 0.07 led to better creative problem-solving skills, it also took a little off the memory.

So, it's true. You can drink to forget (at least while drinking -- because over time, a moderate booze habit can actually help preserve memory).

But if you have a problem that needs solving, don't just have one drink. Have a second one, too.