Invention of the year: Australians create a beer meant for space

In space, no one can hear you scream when your beer is tasteless and flat instead of flavorful and aerated. The Australian-based 4 Pines Brewing Company knows that most of us would want a cold one after a hard day on the International Space Station. With that in mind, they've just created beer ... for space.

Sending up an ordinary six-pack on a Vostok spacecraft won't give astronauts and space tourists the beer experience they know from Earth. It turns out that our tongues swell slightly in microgravity, which results in a diminished sense of taste.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

"Your face puffs out a little bit, your tongue swells up a little bit—it's not extreme, but kind of like having a bad head cold," [Jason Held, from the space engineering firm Saber Astronautics Australia] said.

"So we wanted to have a flavour that would be strong enough, that would punch through that."

The result is the Vostok Space Beer, which you can buy in select pubs across Australia.

(Actually, if you were lucky and had lived in Japan, you could have entered a lottery for Sapporo Space Barley: In 2008, Japanese brewery Sapporo sent an ounce of barley to the International Space Station for five months, then planted it on Earth. The resulting crop yielded enough grain to make 250 six-packs of beer ... which reviewers said tasted exactly like a Sapporo barley beer.)

Unfortunately, 4 Pines' brew is a work in progress. One problem they're having is finding the right bottle. Held told the Herald that a different receptacle needs to be designed. "With only surface tension operating in space, this means a glass can be turned over and the liquid will still stay in."

Then there's carbonation to deal with. NASA writes on its Suds in Space page (yes, they have a page dedicated to beer), "In a weightless environment, bubbles of carbon dioxide ('carbonation') aren't buoyant, so they remain randomly distributed in the fluid. The result can be a foamy mess!"

But we're confident that scientists will work hard, testing and tasting beer after beer, in order to solve this heady problem.

(via New Scientist)

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