To Boldly Go Where No Beer Has Gone Before


For those who aspire to be a space tourist and who also love their beer, this story is for you. A company in Sydney, Australia wants to be the first to offer specially-made brews just for space travel. If they get their wish, you may soon be able to relax in your space taxi or in an orbiting hotel and have your favourite beverage as you enjoy the view.

This is the dream of Jason Held, an American aeronautical engineer who has worked on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Jaron Mitchell, who owns a pub in Sydney, 4 Pines Brewery. They’ve come up with an original craft beer called Vostok 4 Pines Stout, named after the rocket which took the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.

Note the logo! Credit: Vostok Pty Ltd.

But there are certain challenges unique to developing space beer, namely delivery to space via a rather violent rocket launch with all that shaking going on. Then, there’s the effect of drinking beer on the human body in zero gravity. Both of these problems are still being tested, with a focus on finding a way to deliver the beer to orbit as a liquid, since most space drinks until now have been in powdered form (think Tang). Making a glass of beer from a powder just won’t do.

They also had to increase the flavour and decrease the carbonation to make the beer suitable for zero gravity, since tastebuds on the tongue lose sensitivity in a weightless environment. Burping a highly carbonized drink would result in bubbles of liquid being regurgitated and floating around – not very appealing, but comical at the same time. So then what about the future of Coke or Pepsi in space, I wonder?

Jaron Mitchell, left, and Jason Held. Credit: John Kung for Bloomberg Businessweek

Some don’t see beer or dining in general as being a high priority for space tourists though, as noted by Stephen Attenborough, director of Virgin Galactic. “Frankly, we suspect that few if any will want to spend the precious flight time worrying about food and drink,” he said.

But Held sees it differently, saying, “A space hotel without a space bar without space beer. I can’t see it happening.”

All in all, it sounds like a good idea to me (and wine would be nice too), but after the fun, maybe wait a while before driving any space taxis!

14 Replies to “To Boldly Go Where No Beer Has Gone Before”

  1. Then, there’s the effects of drinking beer on the human body in zero gravity.

    Since “effects” is plural, it should be: there are the effects…

  2. It is good to see some longer term planing and product developement for space tourisim. A spcae hotel needs a spcae bar and a bar is not a bar without a beer. This though is not for sub-orbital jaunts but true space hotels. Perhaps they need to talk to Bigelow to see what they need to do to get it on the menue.

  3. It would clearly be easier to find other drugs to enjoy in space. Hemp could easily be ingested or smoked, or you could just ride your natural endorphins.

  4. But … it’s not invented in Leningrad!

    [ If you don’t remember, it’s the scene from Scotty’s only ever defeat, delivered by … Chekov (!):

    Scotty: When are you going to get off that milk diet, lad?
    Chekov: This is vodka.
    Scotty: Where I come from, that’s soda pop.
    [Scotty raises his glass]
    Scotty: Now this is a drink for a man.
    Chekov: Scotch?
    Scotty: Aye.
    Chekov: It was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad.]

  5. I was thinking that space definitely needs beer not too long ago… although I thought a space brewery would be more fun! They should design a space launch vehicle that has a component to leave behind on every mission so that the space station could become larger after every mission to accommodate these crazy space hotel ideas and others that have not come about yet.

  6. “…most space drinks until now have been in powdered form…”
    “So then what about the future of Coke or Pepsi in space, I wonder?”

    Well, there’s already a powdered version of coke available. 🙂

  7. Beer in space… will need a new kind of container…. something with an expandable volume and a valve by a mouthpiece?BREWING in space: Is it possible? I wonder how well the yeast will activate in zero gee?

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