|Beer to be tested in
Astronauts4Hire, a non-profit space
research corporation, will conduct tests
on an Australian beer that has been
brewed specifically for easy drinking in
both microgravity environments.
The beer was produced as a joint venture
between Saber Astronautics Australia, a
space engineering firm, and the Australian
4 Pines Brewing Company, located in
Manly, a suburb of northern Sydney.
The development of space beer is
intended to coincide with the burgeoning
space tourism industry, and as the market
expands, industry leaders are anticipating
a demand for such products.
Testing for the new space beer is set to
begin in November on board Zero Gravity
Corporation's modified Boeing aircraft,
which flies a series of parabolic arcs that
simulate environments of weightlessness.
Researchers will sample the beer during
weightless parabolas and record biometric
data on body temperature, heart rate and
blood alcohol content.
One study, at the University of Colorado,
found that yeast fermented with greater
efficiency in space beer, making it more
alcoholic and that a special container
would be needed to maintain the drink's
carbonation because of the pressure and
temperature changes in space.
The Brewers' Star
For centuries, it was customary for brewers - particularly those in Europe and, later, in
America - to brand or paint a six-point star on the ends of their beer kegs. This geometric
figure, which is called a hexagram, has existed throughout the world for several millennia,
usually as a talisman. This includes the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East. The star was
the official insignia of the Brewer's Guild as early as the 1500s.
The brewer's star was intended to symbolize purity; that is, a brewer who affixed the insignia
to his product was thereby declaring his brew be completely pure of additives, adjuncts, etc.
Folklore has it that the six points of the star represented the six aspects of brewing most
critical to purity: the water, the hops, the grain, the malt, the yeast, and the brewer
|Is It Organic Yet?
After years of trying, organic hop growers, most clustered in
the northwest of the United States, are poised to win a bitter
and bizarre battle: requiring organic hops in organic beer.
The US National Organic Standards Board will take up the
issue later this month. The tale of organic hops is a window
on the little-known exceptions built into organic standards.
While it may be hard to believe, in the $41 million organic
beer market, carrying the coveted organic stamp doesn't
always mean a product is completely organic. If the
Standards Board, which operates within the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, deems an organic ingredient too hard to get, it
can waive it for producers and still allow them to display the
USDA's certified organic label. The non-organic ingredients
have to be less than 5 percent of the product's
total weight, excluding water.
In the case of organic beer, the other main ingredient - barley
- has to be organic because it's the bulk of the product's
weight. But brewers argued successfully in 2007 that organic
hops were too few and far between, at least domestically, to
require them in organic beer. U.S. farmers didn't want to
grow organic hops unless there was demand. but, with the
waiver stifled demand
Organic beer remains a sliver of the $7 billion U.S. craft beer
market. But the economic stakes are significant for organic
growers and brewers. From 2003 to 2009, U.S. organic beer
sales grew more than fourfold, from $9 million to $41
million. Hop growers congregate in the Northwest, drawn
by the moderate climate, short summer nights and ready
labor supply. Washington's Yakima Valley leads the pack,
followed by Oregon and Idaho. Organic hops today are two
to three times more expensive than conventional hops.
Making things worse is the fact that beer drinkers, don't
seem as willing to pay big premiums for organic beer.