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Beer Science

Condensation On Your Beer != Good 275

Posted by timothy
from the except-in-england dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Turns out that condensation on your favorite chilled beverage is a bad thing for keeping it cold. Two researchers conducted an experiment in their bathroom proving that condensation can raise the temperature of your beer by nine degrees!"
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Condensation On Your Beer != Good

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  • by pchasco (651819) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @08:49AM (#43609149)
    For the most part, but I expect the droplets of water increase the surface area of your cold beer container, thereby accelerating the warming process.
  • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @08:50AM (#43609163)

    By the time there's any condensate to wipe off the glass, hasn't the damage (i.e. heat from condensation) already been done? That's what warms the glass and its contents, not the water remaining on the side. So wiping it off won't prevent the warming.

    What you said is correct: wiping will not help, as the condensation process is what causes the heating. The most telling bit comes from TFA:

    “Probably the most important thing a beer koozie does is not simply insulate the can, but keep condensation from forming on the outside of it,” said Dale Durran, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences.

    So either we start seeing stein-shaped koozies at our local dive bar... or nothing will really change from this "finding".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2013 @08:52AM (#43609189)

    Note to international readers: That is 9 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not as bad news for the summer days as it looks!

  • by Wapiti-eater (759089) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @08:57AM (#43609273)
    You chill beverage to hide the unpleasant flavors. Good beer is best served just at or slightly below room temp. Keep it in a cool, dark place - it's ready when you are. Colonials ::sigh::
  • by jones_supa (887896) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @09:30AM (#43609701)
    This is true. You will taste much more of the beer when you drink it slightly warmer. Also the reason why the supermarket bulk beer contains phrases such as "drink ice cold!!" -- you can't taste how crappy it is.
  • by quist (72831) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @09:53AM (#43609979)

    the equilibrium point will be roughly at the dew_pt or wet_bulb_temp of the ambient environment. The wet_bulb_temp will approach ambient temp as the % humidity rises, hence, the quick-warming pitchers in the average crowded college watering hole.

  • by Tx (96709) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @10:01AM (#43610095) Journal

    Every country has its fair share of fizzy piss lager, but credit where credit is due, I was just reading about how American craft beers have inspired [bbc.co.uk] British brewers in recent times, so I think the days of scoffing at US beer should be over.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Thursday May 02, 2013 @10:12AM (#43610251)

    American craft beers are also quite influential in Scandinavia, among both beer drinkers and as an influence on the local brewing scene. Brooklyn Brewery is popular enough that they're opening a brewery in Stockholm [brooklynbrewery.com] to fill local demand without having to ship the beer.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#43610325)

    Actually what I think is happening is probably the opposite of evaporative cooling. When you sweat for example, it makes you cold because as the water molecules are evaporating into a gas, it takes heat energy with it.

    Now condensation on the other hand results in the opposite. The heat from the water molecule is then put into the system (i.e. the glass of beer) so the water molecule sticks to it because it no longer has the energy it needed to remain in its gas form.

    In which case, wiping the condensation off doesn't reduce the temperature. In fact, it might actually be counterproductive because that water is no longer there to evaporate again, resulting in the cooling effect.

  • by slim (1652) <john@hart n u p.net> on Thursday May 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#43610333) Homepage

    Yes, speaking as a British beer snob who's travelled the US coast-to-coast, there are astonishingly good craft beers in shops throughout the US. They tend towards the very hoppy pale ale, which I absolutely love, and they have inspired more of that kind of beer in the UK.

    However, Bud Lite, PBR etc. are definitely blander than any of the mainstream British/European lagers served in British pubs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2013 @11:04AM (#43610839)

    Your reflexive disdain is outdated. Lots of craft brewers are going to cans, at least here in Colorado. Much easier to take camping, lighter, probably cheaper and just as easy to recycle. Also, unlike even brown glass, and much better than pale glass, a can won't let *any* light through, so the beer is less likely to skunk.

    Think of a can as a small hand held keg. No real difference in the storage container other than size.

    Of course the storage conditions have an affect so be careful where you buy your beer. Kegs stay in a cool location. Cans sometimes are kept cool and sometimes are 'stored' in rather warm conditions.

  • by Quirkz (1206400) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:30PM (#43613975) Homepage

    The can may spoil it for you, but "skunk" is actually a technical term. It's a chemical process where some of the hop chemicals react with sunlight and convert into something else which literally provides a slightly skunky smell. If you want a good reference, Corona is a classic case of a heavily skunked beer. (I think that's why a lot of people drink it with the lime, to cover up the smell.) It's also part of the Mexican lager standard style - in their case they expose the beer to a burst of ultraviolet light during production specifically to create the effect, and can get away with clear bottles because additional skunking won't make much difference.

    Miller, on the other hand, created a variation of the hop chemical which provides bitterness but doesn't react to light. That's how they can get away with clear bottles for one of their lines of beer - it won't skunk no matter what.

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