Chromatography

  • How to Create the Perfect Beer Head with Science

How to Create the Perfect Beer Head with Science

Jan 29 2020 Read 1107 Times

Brits love their beer and now the University of Manchester has spearheaded a technique designed to create the perfect head every time. Led by university researcher Dr Richard Campbell, the study answered a long-standing question about the mechanics of beer foam. 

As well as enhancing the heads on pints of beer, Campbell says the technology could also be used to improve the consistency of other foams, including frothed milk added to coffee, industrial firefighting foam and lathering shampoos. Campbell also predicts the research could be given an eco-friendly spin and used to enhance the effectiveness of absorbent foams used to soak up oil spills.

Harnessing the world's most powerful neutron sources

The study was published in the journal Chemical Communications, with research conducted at the Institut Laue-Langevin in France. The research facility boasts one of the world's most powerful neutron sources, with Campbell and his team firing beams at different liquids used to create foams.

"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," explains Campbell. "The difference is that the information is on a molecular level that we cannot see with our eyes."

Creating a long-lasting, frothy foam

To investigate the properties of foam, the team analysed mixtures containing surfactant compounds that lower surface tension and create the 'foam film' bubbles that result in a frothy texture. They used neutron sources to stabilise the foam films and prevent the bubbles from bursting, which results in a long-lasting foam. Using the results, they developed a method that could be used to create a beer foam that lasts for the entirety of a drink, not just the first few sips.   

"For decades scientists have tried to get a handle on how to control reliably the lifetime and stability of foams made from liquids that contain mixed additives," says Campbell. "This is important, as some products benefit from foams that are ultra-stable and others from foams that are very unstable."

From enhancing foams to analysing e-liquids, laboratories are continually pioneering new breakthroughs. For more information on the latest instruments being used to analyse the content of commercially sold e-liquids, don't miss 'Analysis of Electronic Cigarette E-Liquids by GC-MS.'

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