Study Estimates Number of Bubbles Created When Beer Is Poured

Here's a bubbly one fit for a bubbly conversation!
Christopher McFadden

Researchers from the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France have recently published a study looking at how many bubbles form when beer is poured. The study, funded, in part, by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) will finally help solve one of life's most burning questions — at least for some. 

Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages on the planet, with some historians believing it was first devised over 12,000 years ago. Other, more conservative estimates point to around 5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt.

Today, beer remains one of the most popular beverages in the world, with light-flavored ones especially well-liked. The fermentation process behind beer converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

When bottled, these bubbles remain in solution with more carbon dioxide usually added to create the desired fizziness of the final product. These bubbles are an essential component of what is considered a good beer, adding to its flavor and texture that is enjoyed by millions the world over. 

how many bubbles beer
Source: Felipe Tofani/Flickr

But just how many bubbles are released when the beer (in this case lager) is finally cracked open to drink? This is exactly what Gérard Liger-Belair and Clara Cilindre from the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne wanted to find out. 

How many bubbles form when beer is poured?

Previously Gérard Liger-Belair had estimated somewhere in the region of 1,000,000 forms in champagne flutes, but estimates for beer were less certain.

To create their estimate, the team measured the level of carbon dioxide in a commercial lager just after it was poured into a tilted glass. Next, the team calculated that under standard tasting temperatures (42 degrees Fahrenheit/5.56 degrees Celsius), streams of bubbles would form in crevices and cavities of the glass more than 1.4 microns wide. 

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Next, using high-speed photography, they showed that these bubbles would grow in volume as they float to the surface. This process would capture and transport more of the dissolved carbon dioxide in the beer.

bubbles in beer lots
Source: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

As the remaining dissolved gas decreased a certain point would be reached when bubbles stopped forming and the beer became flat. 

Through this combination of techniques, the team was able to estimate that, depending on the beer, 200,000 and 2 million bubbles are usually released before a half-pint-sized (roughly 240 ml) measure of beer goes flat. 

Additionally, the team also found that the number of bubbles that form from either beer or champagne will differ depending on the glass vessel they are poured into as well. Especially those with larger imperfections. 

With this revelation, you can know put your mind are to rest. Bottoms up!

The original study was published in the American Chemical Society and was partially funded by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

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