With companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin making massive leaps toward the existence of space tourism and long duration space exploration, we at Star Letters have been concerned about one thing…
WILL WE DRINK BEER IN SPACE? IF SO WHAT KIND?
And if we do, is it going to be out of a squeezy pouch like Astronauts use? Because we’re down.
When Star Letters attended the inaugural Yuri’s Night at Kennedy Space Center in April, we had the chance to try something pretty darn neat (and might I say pretty darn delicious).
We don’t mean a Joe-schmo Bud Light or Coors with an astronaut slapped on the can.
We don’t mean a fancy schmancy import seasonal beer with a rocket shaped bottle.
We don’t even mean a green colored brew claiming to be “alien juice” (although, that does sound cooler than the green beer for St. Patty’s Day).
We mean the beer from a team that partnered with actual, real life scientists who are innovating and testing every aspect of the beer down to the container, so that this can be the official beverage of space tourists (of legal drinking age, of course).
They are working together to design a beer that is not only absolutely delicious, but functional in zero gravity.
(Jaron Mitchell, co-founder of 4 Pines/ “Chief of Beer Chiefs” along with Jason Held, space engineer for Saber Astronautics. Image Credit: 4 Pines Brewery)
At Yuri’s Night, under the Atlantis Space Shuttle, 4 Pines’ co-founder of 4 Pines Brewery, James Daniel, was on stage talking about this beverage technology (or “bevvy tech”, as we call it), and described the content and reasoning behind every detail of their research.
He described that since humans settled their lives in one location (as opposed to the hunter/gatherer way of living) and the invention of beer, it played a huge role in social gatherings.
It was a tool in comradery; a group of people would gather around, have a drink, and talk. Be social with one another. Have that sense of friendship.
Daniel went on to explain that this was the most important part of developing Vostok Space Beer.
It was an experience.
The team wanted to bring that social experience along with us to outer space. And he did not believe the experience would be the same if we sucked gummy, jelly beer out of a pouch. We needed the sensation of holding and sipping from a bottle.
But there was a major, scientific issue with that: liquid cannot be poured or sipped out of the bottle without gravity.
The technology that this amazing group of people came up with seems so simple, but so complex and amazing at the same time. Daniel demonstrated how the look and feel of the bottle’s design is similar, if not indistinguishable, from a typical beer bottle.
However, it is flexible and able to be squeezed, using similar “bevvy tech” as a typical astronaut food pouch. While you are drinking (or rather, slurping) and holding this, you will feel the same experience that beer has valiantly brought the human race throughout time.
(Vostok Space Beer Bottle Prototype, Image Credit: 4 Pines Brewery)
Another technology that people (or at least people like me) didn’t think of is the beer itself. Of course our bodies go through all kinds of changes when we are in space (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an awkward middle-school-bodies-are-changing conversation.
We have all suffered enough through that). Specific ones that Vostok was concerned with were that our tongues swell, which cause our taste senses to dull. They had to take a step back and almost reinvent beer (they may as well have reinvented the wheel at this point), to make sure that the taste is just as delicious in zero gravity as it is on Earth with your pals.
Their “Space Beer” flavor is comparable to an Earth Irish Stout with the lineup of seven strong malts. The aroma is described by the team as “chocolate, caramel, and coffee malts”, which gives a full bodied palette with a smooth finish to balance the bitterness.
There is still a ways to go not only with the technology being fully developed, but also funded. You can help contribute to this delicious – I mean awesome – cause by visiting their website for more information. We will also have an awesome collaboration project with them coming soon, so stay tuned!
Now, raise a glass with me as I am caught up in all of the excitement of space travel and space beer.
That, to me, is definitely worthy of drinking to.
(Beer Taste Test in 0 G, Image Credit 4 Pines Brewery)
Cassie Thonen is a Space Reporter and Photojournalist for Star Letters. She studied Studio Art and Design at Northern Illinois University, with a degree emphasis in Photography. When she is not chasing rockets or staring at the stars, Cassie can be found perfecting her photography or with her dogs, Frankie and Chewie. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.