When it comes to crucial fields of scientific study, focusing on making beer more enjoyable probably isn’t the most important thing in the world. Of course, that didn’t stop researchers from the University of Manchester from diving deep into the foamy end of the beer pool, and a new paper reveals that we’re now closer than ever to enjoying the perfect, everlasting beer head.
The study, which was published in Chemical Communications, focused on beer foam stability and the factors that lead to tiny bubbles popping or persisting. It might sound like a lighthearted topic, but the implications stretch far beyond tasty brews.
In the team’s experimenting efforts, the researchers bombarded foamy liquids with neutrons to reveal secrets about the structure of the tiny bubbles.
“Just like when we see light reflecting off a shiny object and our brains help us identify it from its appearance, when neutrons reflect up off a liquid they are fired at we can use a computer to reveal crucial information about its surface,” Dr. Richard Campbell, who lead the research, said in a statement. “The difference is that the information is on a molecular level that we cannot see with our eyes.”
The paper dives into the science of how foam bubbles form and the factors that determine how long it lasts, such as the surface tension and elasticity of the bubbles. For beer drinkers, this brings us one step closer to the “perfect” foamy beer head which could theoretically last from the first pour all the way until the last sip.
Of course, the real-world implications of learning more about foam stability can have much more important impacts as well. Firefighters often use foam to choke raging flames, and as Science Daily points out, oil-absorbing foams have been effective during manmade disasters. Foam that lasts longer — whether it’s on the top of your beer or being dumped on a wildfire — is a big plus for all of us.