Drinking Beer Is Cool, But Drinking Beer Made From Ingredients Shot Into Outer Space Is Cooler
Ninkasi Brewing Company of Euegene, Oregon is about to launch ‘Ground Control’, the first beer made with ingredients from outer space available to the general public. As the craft beer market is increasingly saturated with every type of IPA imaginable, one brewery is breaking from the pack by releasing a ‘space beer‘ made from yeast that was put in a rocket and shot 77.3 miles into outer space.
In a project that started back in 2014, Ninkasi Brewing Company launched a rocket containing brewer’s yeast from the Black Rock Desert of Nevada into space. The yeast would only be able to survive 12-hours of the extreme heat, and when it was found nearly a month later (and nine miles off course) the yeast had perished and Ninkasi was forced to start all over again.
In October, Ninkasi tried a second launch with the help of commercial spaceflight firm UP Aerospace. The rocket was sent 77.3 miles into space and floated above the atmosphere for more than four minutes before falling back to earth.
This time, the six vials of yeast were swiftly retrieved by a U.S. Army helicopter and transported back to Ninkasi’s lab, where it was tested and brewed into the first beer made from yeast that traveled to space and back.
Spending a short amount of time in space doesn’t fundamentally change the yeast. According to Floyd, the space yeast performed the same as its earthly counterparts. However, yeast can only survive in a very narrow range of temperatures, so sending it to space and back is no small feat.
And of course, anything that gets launched into space comes with a hefty price tag. Ninkasi spent about $80,000 on the project.
Unspoken tension enveloped us all on the rescheduled launch morning, bringing memories of July’s disappointment. NSP’s success, and the fate of our space beer, was to be determined in the next few hours. Finally our prayers to the Goddess Ninkasi were answered as the rocket (SPaceLoft-9) successfully launched. All of its fuel was burned within 12 seconds, and it coasted to space within 60 seconds. The rocket achieved an altitude of 408,035 ft. (77.3 miles above the earth) and our yeast ultimately remained weightless for over four minutes. It eventually fell into a flat spin descent to earth with the rocket parachute opening about 6,000 ft above ground. Retrieval by US Army helicopter was successful and swift, leaving one final question for our NSP team: How was the yeast?
Jamie had first contact with our space yeast, but viability could not be determined by eye. It was not until a couple of anxious days of waiting, as the yeast was carefully transported back to Ninkasi labs, that the brewer’s yeast we sent high into space was finally tested and determined viable, healthy, and ready for brewing. Yeah! Space Beer at last!
The ‘Ground Control’ beer was obviously named in homage to David Bowie, and has release of the beer began yesterday and ran through today. Ninkasi’s running a promotion for people who get their hands on ‘Ground Control’ and are willing to share it on social media. Those who toss this unique beer up on the ‘gram are eligible to win special ‘Ground Control’ gear:
Don't let Ground Control get lost in space! Land a bottle of this very limited and very delicious Imperial Stout before May 4th and share it on twitter, instagram or untappd using @ninkasibrewing and #GroundControl for a chance to win stellar Ninkasi Space Program gear! We'll choose three random winners every week and two grand prize winners with the raddest landing shots for the ultimate NSP package! Happy hunting, space explorers! Full guidelines here: nsp.beer/LISguidlines
While there’s no firm line for where ‘space’ ends and ‘outer space’ begins, the Kármán line (62-miles above sea level) is often used to distinguish the two. And speaking of two, this is actually the second beer to be made with materials from outer space. Like I said before, it’s the first one being made available to the general public, but as CNN notes, in 2009 Sapporo made a beer using ‘space barley’ and released their brew through an online lottery at $80/bottle. Ninkasi’s ‘Ground Control’ will be bottled in 22oz bottles at $20/bottle.