A beer that's truly out of this world
Aussies are brewing a new generation of beer. One that will boldly go where no beer has gone before, solving the age-old problem of how to get drunk in space.
Eating and burping are not much of a challenge for us Earth dwellers, but they actually pose some pretty big problems once you leave our atmosphere.
In space, because of the lack of gravity pulling stuff down, burps come out with more than just air. Also, you lose your sense of smell and your tongue swells, making your taste buds a bit numb. This means that, out in space, most food or drinks have little taste. This is why astronauts are known to crave the fiery hit of spicy condiments on their food. The spicier your food, the better your chances are of tasting it.
The good news is that soon astronauts may be able to enjoy at least one Earthly creature comfort. An Aussie micro-brewery is working on a new generation of beer that will taste good and won't make you burp a wet one while you are orbiting in space.
The project is the brainchild of an unlikely partnership. Jaron Mitchell, owner of the 4 Pines Brewing Company, and Jason Held, a space engineer from the Australian firm Saber Astronautics joined forces to make the world's first space beer.
The idea of mingling beer with space travel is not totally new. Two years ago, a US company brewed beer using yeast that had been to space. But this is the first time a beer is actually designed to be drunk in outer space.
The challenges of a space-friendly beer
Food has always been a challenge in space travel, and it has taken different shapes and textures over time to accommodate the needs of space diners. For example, it can be squeezy food, a bit like toothpaste, or freeze-dried morsels that little resemble the fresh version of the food.
But for liquids, things are a bit more challenging. Without gravity, you simply can't drink straight out of a glass or bottle, because the liquid would float straight out.
"In space, you can't 'pour' a liquid without special technology, so we pioneered the important bits at Saber Astronautics to make pouring feel natural. Then we worked with industrial and creative designers to make the final bottle beautiful for people on Earth too," said Jason in a press release.
The result was a space bottle with some unusual properties. "A space beer bottle is a lot like a small spacecraft fuel tank," says Jason. "The bottle incorporates a special insert that uses surface tension to wick the beer from the bottom of the bottle to the mouthpiece so you can drink normally."
Other problems like the wet burps and taste have already been fixed, says Jason, as they have brewed a specialty beer that has a strong taste and produces just enough bubbles to make it pleasant to drink without the nasty burping. The only problem remaining was the bottle.
The concept has been tested in microgravity conditions through commercial test flights. Now, the company is working to make it into a nice looking, easy to handle bottle, and it is currently in its last stages of design.
"Flight tests with Zero-G Corporation proved the concept works great, so now it's time to make a bottle that fits the hand," says Jason.
Would you like to be a space beer taster?
Fancy the idea of drinking a cold one in outer space? Well, this is your chance.
If all goes well and 4 Pines finds the funding they need to create their beer bottle, the company is offering a "space beer weekender". This is a cool 3-day trip that includes a return ticket from Australia and accommodation near Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Of course, there is some beer in the deal. You'll join a microgravity flight where you will get to test 4 Pines space beer.
If your answer is refreshing and hits the spot, you might soon be enjoying a beer and a view out of this world.