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back to article Brew me up, bro: 11-year-old plans to make BEER IN SPACE

An 11-year-old boy is set to become the first person to brew beer in space – even though he's far too young to drink. Michal Bodzianowski, from Colorado, won a national competition which called for proposals on experiments which could be conducted in space. But rather than examining the effect of zero-gravity on gerbils or …

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I'm surprised

that their sponsors didn't include a single brewery. I can see it now.

Carlsburg, we don't brew our beer on the ISS but if we did... It would be out of this world.

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Re: I'm surprised

Probably the best beer in the Solar System?

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Headmaster

Re: I'm surprised

*Carlsberg.

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Re: I'm surprised

Pint of Stellar Artois anyone?

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Re: Stella

Not until married couples are allowed on the ISS. There's a reason they dont call it colleague-beater.

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Pint

Re: Stella

I call it 'wife annoyer' now, since it went from 5.2% to 5% to 4.8% in the UK. All this to pay less tax. I can taste the difference and am not really a fan of it now. And before anyone says anything about lager, I also drink red wine and real ale (well, okay, anything...)

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This post has been deleted by its author

As it costs about $5000 to send a kilo to space and about the same to return it, probably Stella should get in on the act... at $5000 a pint, it would be disconcertingly expensive

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But no wives to beat up in space....

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ql
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Pint

"His school raised $21,500..."

Well may I add a raised elbow to that. Great career in tech ahead with such an understanding of the drink.

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Fantastic stuff

He's got the priorities correct!

Martian Malt, Lunar Lambic!

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Interesting

On earth the head floats to the top of the pint.

In space will there be an orb of beer surrounded by head?

Discuss.......

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Re: Interesting

This may be relevant

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8TssbmY-GM

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Pint

Re: Interesting

Great video

This sort of suggests that yes, the beer will be surrounded by the head.

I can't wait for the astronaut to perform the beer experiment -

"Now then children, to prevent the beer from damaging the space station I need to clear it up and the best way of doing that is to consume it."

"Hang on, I've spilt some more. I better clean that up as well"

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Re: Interesting

On earth the head floats to the top of the pint.

Never mind the head, where's the yeast going to go during fermentation. ISTR that yeasts are either "top-fermenting" or "bottom-fermenting". I wonder how that will work out in zero-g?

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Re: Interesting

Also, brewers yeats differ in whether they are 'top' or 'bottom' fermenting - which refers to whether the yeast forms a layer that floats on the liquor, or sinks. This plays an important factor in brewing on Earth, so the brewing process itself in space would be interesting. The fining process also involves sedimentation of the dead yeast, which would not happen in zero gravity, so this may be replaced by flocculation (essentially clumping together), or some form of filtration?

edit - damn, just beat me to it!

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Re: Interesting

But what is the right size of head in space?

Is it a Southern or Northern pint?

Or the effect of one of those Co2 capsules -- worse than a thrown about can of Guinness on a hot day?

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Re: Interesting

As the US is currently closed for business I couldn't find anything on the NASA site.

I did find this on a UK site though

http://www.our-space.org/materials/states-of-matter/metro-fizzy-drinks-in-space.

Anyway, all this talk of beer is making me thirsty ;-)

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Re: Interesting

re: top v bottom

Indeed, yeasts do that and have been bred (old style genetic modification) to do that. You could solve it by centrifuge too.

What's also interesting is the C02 made during fermentation. Part of the reason beer doesn't spoil while brewing is that it forms a blanket of CO2 over the top, which being slightly more dense than oxygen and nitrogen forces the yeast to anaerobically respire, hence the alcohol. (another aside, you personally make ethanol all the time using the same process). You can help this along a bit with a bubble trap, but I'm unsure how that would work in microgravity.

Also, as it forms in the beer the the CO2 bubbles up to the top, would the bubbles just stay suspended?

What a great idea for a project.

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Re: Interesting

My God, Richard Garriott de Cayeux! I wondered what he'd been doing since he gave up trying to replace WoW...

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Pint

Re: Interesting

"Also, as it forms in the beer the the CO2 bubbles up to the top, would the bubbles just stay suspended?"

I expect the CO2 would form few bubbles as the motion of the yeast, generating the CO2, and the tiny CO2 bubbles themselves will likely be determined by Brownian motion up to a certain size. At which point other forces like surface tension and the expanding larger bubbles simply engulfing the nearby smaller ones or breaching the outer surface of the liquid and leaving the body. The bubbles leaving the body of liquid should be quite interesting since it would resemble a rocket driven by the ejected mass of the bubble driven by the surface tension of the fluid. A floating ball of fluid wouldn't move because there should be no preference for the direction of the ejecta but when placed in a container it should produce a directional force. This experiment is getting more interesting by the minute. Who knew a simple pint would literally lead to rocket science?

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MJI
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Re: Interesting

NASA closed

To be honest that is pretty pathetic, why does their web site have to change?

Why can't someone maintain it for something to do while not at work?

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Where exactly is he too young to drink?

Do national borders and regional laws apply when you're wanging round the world at 1 lap every 90 mins? ;-)

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Re: Where exactly is he too young to drink?

I thought that the law applies to the retail sale of beer with the intended final recipient being an 'underage person'. Surely he can brew his own beer and drink it if he wants to? It's a basic freedom and human right, damn it!

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Pint

Re: Where exactly is he too young to drink?

In most states he is free to drink it provided his parents are present and they consent. In some states this even applies to booze purchased and consumed in public (say, at a restaurant). Let's hope for the kid that Colorado is one of them.

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They forgot to mention the reason the water was purer in beer in the middle ages was the BOILING of it.

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Well yes, and no. The yeast either out-competes bacteria, or the beer spoils, so if you actually end up with beer as the end product, rather than some stinking cloudy concoction (and it is quite easy to tell the difference by appearance and smell alone), you can be pretty certain that the only microorganism in it will be traces of the yeast.

Added to that the fact that the alohol tends to kill other nasties off, such as parasites, then beer is safer than water, whether or not the water used to brew it has previously been sterilised by boiling.

The purpose of the boiling is the mashing process, which requires the malt and hops to be boiled up to extract the flavour, but cooled before the addition of the yeast. AFAIK, most medieval brewing was fermented in open vessels, and the yeast would already have been present in traces in the brewing vessel, or come from spores in the air. Harmful bacteria can quite easily colonise such set-ups, and it is the fermentation process itself that kills them off, or results in spoilage.

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They also forgot to mention that beer was never intrinsequely purer than water

Even nowadays it is extremely easy to get a hellish diarrhea-inducing thing when homebrewing if you're not careful. Beer is not boiled, that would kill the malt enzymes, It is heated, but not enough for it to become sterile. Then you have a mix of nutrients in water, which rapidly becomes a mix of toxic bacteria if you're not careful. The yeast out-competes bacteria for the nutrients, which helps, but is far from enough (yeast grows ~10x slower than most bacteria in these conditions). The point of drinking beer (or mead for that matter) is that

-it makes you drunk which is pretty fun

-you take it along so you know where it's from, instead of drinking from a random typhus-infected poodle on the way.

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Pint

Re: They also forgot to mention that beer was never intrinsequely purer than water

As a keen homebrewer I can shed some light on why beer is safe from nasties:

1) the wort (unfermented sweet malty liguid) is boiled for one hour before being cooled and having yeast added, it is a strong rolling boil and certainly renders the wort completely sterile. Care must be taken to ensure that the cooling equipment and fermenter are clean to minimise the numbers of nasties being re-introduced to the cooled wort before fermentation takes off.

2) large numbers of healthy live yeast cells are added to the cooled wort, they firstly multiply and then secondly (when they run out of oxygen) start producing ethanol before any nasties have had a chance to multiply, the ethanol then helps kill nasties.

3) hops were added during the boil, hops are naturally antibiotic and therefore also help keep the nasties at bay.

How did all this work in medieval times? The boil and the hops (or in even earlier times other herbs&bark) gave the nasties a very hard time indeed, and the "magic" part was that the brewer always stirred the cooled & fermenting wort with the same special wooden stick, not knowing that the stick transferred yeast from one batch to the next thus ensuring that there was yeast present to take over before any nasties could.

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Re: They also forgot to mention that beer was never intrinsequely purer than water

liguid = liquid. D'oh.

p.s. the wort is made by soaking ("mashing") cracked malted grain in hot (not boiling) water for an hour, e.g. 63 - 68 degrees, which encourages the grain's enzymes to convert insoluble starch into soluble sugars which then dissolve into the water. The sugary water is drained out, this is the wort which is then boiled as I described above. Perhaps the previous poster was thinking of mashing when he said beer is not boiled.

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This is a cool idea

It's interesting to think about how many standard brewing processes are dependent on gravity (such as airlocks, siphoning, etc.)

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Intriguing

As a home brewer I started thinking about how difficult this would be to do. Another home brewer in my office and I were discussing this and realized how big a part gravity plays in beer making. Typically trub falls out the bottom which it can't do in this case. Also, it would be unwise to prime (carbonate) this brew for a number of reasons. I'm guessing space beer is going to be served flat and run through a strainer.

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Re: Intriguing

...but it would be able to be served VERY cold...

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Coat

Re: Intriguing

"realized how big a part gravity plays in beer making"

Yes, well, it is rather a specific requirement...

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Pint

simulated gravity needed or you fill the ISS with wort foam

With no gravity, the fermenting wort will simply expand as a growing mass of foam. There would be enough sugar in this liquid until the ferment is complete for the wort foam bubbles to get very large and numerous. So unless they only ferment a very tiny brew, the mass of expanding foam will soon fill the entire space station with a sticky, yeasty mess.

The only way around this problem is to simulate gravity by carrying out the brew using a revolving drum. "Up" , where the C02 can escape, will be close to the axle around which the drum rotates. There will need to be a hole near the axis to let the C02 out. Just as with any fermentation vessel, without a hole or preferably an airlock, you would have a bottle bomb.

Bottle conditioning wouldn't work either, unless the conditioning yeast was settled out away from the stopper by spinning the bottle first, and then mostly allowed to eject into another container, to separate it from the conditioning yeast.

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Coat

Wait until someone gets a distillery up there to make some proper moonshine.

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Not a distillery yet, but Ardbeg sent up a batch of their scotch to compare how the tarpenes react in near zero gravity.

They've also stored control samples in Houston and Islay....

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But will it be real Beer - or foreign Lager

Basically, will it be top- or bottom-fermented?

Does the concept apply in zero-G?

Will we need a new word for "throughout-fermented" brews?

Most importantly, who gets to taste it?

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Boffin

Head of beer

Why would the head surround the beer?

Even if the container were spinning, the head would form nearer the centre of rotation, no?

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Boffin

Headless beer:

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/questions/question/2872/

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Pint

Brewing generates a ton of CO2

As the yeast consume the sugars they throw off alcohol and a lot of carbon dioxide. It doesn't seem like they would want much more CO2 onboard, loading down the life support systems.

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Re: Brewing generates a ton of CO2

I would have thought it would be trivial to vent it into space, since brewing is essentially a contained process. The problem of processing it would only arise if it were mixed in with the space station's atmosphere. One would hope that any onboard experiments that might involve the production of contaminants such as carbon dioxide would be suitably sealed.

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I'm sure

there's a pun about gravity in here somewhere...

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Re: I'm sure

"there's a pun about gravity in here somewhere..."

Could you be more specific?

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Re: I'm sure

That's not very original.

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Re: I'm sure

Is that your final answer?

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This post has been deleted by its author

I thought the top vs bottom fermenting stuff was mostly related to so called "top fermenting" varieties fermenting vigorously enough that the Co2 produced stirs the liquid enough to toss the little critters around and form foam at the top..

As for flocculation, perhaps a German HefeWeizen or Belgian Wit will taste better in space, because the yeast will NOT accumulate at the bottom, so you don't have to shake the bottle in order to knock the yeast loose (and lose some carbonation while doing so).

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Colorado?

I would have thought he'd be from Wisconsin! (Perplexed)

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Trollface

A possible sponsor

Make it Anheuser-Busch; then they can jettison the batch of Budweiser out the airlock (where it belongs).

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