But why ‘space-safe’? What makes this beer suitable to wet the whistles of future astronauts?
In fact, there are two considerations that the brewers took into account – taste and gas content.
Numerous astronauts over the years of occupation of the International Space Station have reported the sensation of a loss of taste when eating in microgravity – consequently, foods have tasted bland with a resultant desire for stronger flavours and spiced up rations. The jury is still out as to why exactly this occurs, but it could be related to the fact that an upwards fluid shift occurs in the body when in microgravity and thus, there is a feeling of greater congestion in the head and nasal cavities – perhaps reducing the senses of smell and taste. Considering this, the brewing company selected ale with a strong flavour.
Drink a pint of beer at the pub and what most frequently happens next? The liquid travels down your throat and sits in your stomach, and before long the carbon dioxide bubbles rise up to the top due to gravity and form an uncomfortable pocket of gas, requiring a burp to release it. However, in space this separation of liquids and gases does not take place because of the large reduction in gravity – the bubbles remain mixed in with the liquid – thus, if an astronaut were to burp in microgravity there is a strong possibility that both gas and liquid would be expelled – not a pleasant thing to have floating around in the cabin environment! Therefore, the brewing company chose a reduced-carbon dioxide beer recipe.
On 26th February 2011, Vostok, the world’s first space-safe beer was tested by ale loving volunteers in microgravity, on board a ZERO-G parabolic flight. Testing looked at drinkability, taste, and alcohol absorption during microgravity and resulted in successful validation of the beer’s recipe. Who knows how long it will be before the first space hotel opens for business to serve its guests a refreshing pint of Vostok 4 Pines space-safe beer!