If you have images in your head of space cantinas and drunk interstellar pirate captains in your mind, we’ve got bad news: The future of galactic liquor is neither bright nor boozy.
Scientists have found through several tests that zero gravity is bad for the microbial processes of fermentation and aging, and a new video on the Youtube channel SciShow makes it sound like we’re not going to be drinking space booze any time soon.
“Orbit, with its constant temperature, weightlessness, and higher radiation is a very different environment from anything you'd find on earth, and all those factors affect the alcohol-making process,” the video explains, and apparently that’s all bad for producing high volumes of alcohol, and for making it taste good.
According to SciShow, NASA once tried an experiment where identical vials of unfermented beer ingredients were separated, one going to space, the other staying on earth. The experiment surprisingly yielded less activity in space. While some had assumed zero gravity might increase growth, there were actually fewer yeast cells at the end, and most of them exhibited signs of stress.
In 2011 they replicated the experiment, this time subbing whiskey and oak to see how space affected aging. According to SciShow, “Researchers expected the more efficient mixing of oak and alcohol in orbit to create more intense woody flavors. Instead microgravity seemed to slow the breakdown process, and they ended up with a whiskey that was very different from the control sample.”
The whiskey likely didn’t taste great, with "hints of antiseptic smoke, rubber, smoked fish, along with a curious, perfumed note, like violet or cassis, and powerful woody tones, leading to a meaty aroma, which does not sound super appetizing.”