beer-space

The world’s first beer that is designed to be consumed in outer space

Now that there will be a luxury hotel in space in 2022, the idea of people vacationing out of this world is no longer a dream. So say, you do shell the $9.5 million for the 12-day vacation, surely you’d expect more from its dining scene?

Since tourism is ultimately about leisure, it’s probably time for more F&B companies to adapt their product line for space.

Two such companies that are trying to do this are 4 Pines Beer in Australia and Saber Astronautics, currently working to create the world’s first space beer.

Its story began in 2010 when the founders—4 Pines’ Jaron Mitchell and Saber Astronautics’ Dr. Jason Held—met. The space engineer had already met Mitchell’s father a year prior and grew familiar with 4 Pines’ beer’s sharper and more complex flavors than other products on the market. So he asked the brewer right off the bat, “What do you think about putting your beer in space?”

Initially, Mitchell thought the idea was “equal parts crazy and brilliant.” Yet, as an avid space lover with a curious mind, he immediately went for it. Together, the pair named the beer Vostok after the 1961 spaceship manned by Yuri Gagarin and worked tirelessly for eight years (and counting) to make it happen.

Clearly, this wasn’t easy. To achieve the three key qualities held dear by the master brewer—alcohol absorption, comfort, and taste—there were several challenges posed by space’s zero-gravity condition, according to the founders.

First, gasses and liquids don’t separate in space. Since bubbles stick together and form a big ball of gas surrounded by a shell of beer, this creates an extremely uncomfortable (yet thankfully harmless) condition called “wet burp” where gas and liquid come out together. Which is why, any carbonated drink—beer or cola—could cause discomfort.

Second, head naturally swells when there’s no gravity to pool blood to the feet, resulting in a muted sense in the tongue and reduced ability to distinguishing flavors.

Therefore, to make a beer that meets Mitchell’s universal standards (literally), the duo must come up with a way to reduce enough carbonation to make the drinker feel comfortable, all the while strengthening the flavor that complements the smaller bubbles.

Another key consideration is the bottle itself. Without gravity, just getting the beer into a person’s mouth is a challenge. Since surface tension causes the beer to stick to the glass as opposed to going anywhere else, Mitchell inevitably found himself asking, “How do you get the beer out of the bottle without squeezing it or sucking from it through a straw?”

To that end, the team considered several options such as pressure-fed systems and straws. Yet, to create a drinking experience closest to Earth, they ultimately decided that the mechanism of fuel tanks—which has a shaped insert inside the tank to help wick the fuel in the direction of a valve—would work best in controlling the trajectory of the beer in space.

On February 2011, the team flight-tested the concept and confirmed their hypothesis.

With all the preparation and preliminary technical difficulties sorted, the company began looking for manufacturers for the product since late 2017.

So far, the team has spent more than $250K. Based on Vostak’s recent Indiegogo campaign, the entire production will cost another $1 million to complete.