Ever wonder how many bubbles live in your beer?

Close-up of beer glasses with white frothy bubbles on top
Photo: Roberto Machado Noa / Contributor (Getty Images)

Ever participated in one of those “Guess How Many Gumballs” contests? I’m usually off by hundreds, which may or may not have something to do with my deteriorating peripheral vision. Either way, guessing is fun. But if you ever tried to eyeball the number of bubbles in a pint of lager, your eyes might just cross permanently. Fortunately, scientists are on the case: a recent study found that a gently poured half-pint of lager will produce between 200,000 and 2 million bubbles before going flat, tech site CNET reports.

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Researcher Gerard Liger-Belair first counted the number of CO2 bubbles in a flute of champagne before moving on to beer. Liger-Belair then published his findings in the journal ACS Omega in late March. The abstract reads: “The number of bubbles likely to form in a glass of beer is the result of the fine interplay between dissolved CO2, tiny particles or glass imperfections acting as bubble nucleation sites, and ascending bubble dynamics.”

How’d they count the bubbles without going permanently googly-eyed? The researchers conducted a series of carbon dioxide measurements, in addition to calculating the effect of beer glasses on bubble formation via high-speed photography that helped them watch the bubbles floating to the top.

Finally, why count the bubbles in a pint? “These bubbles are important sensory elements of beer tasting, similar to sparkling wines, because they transport flavor and scent compounds,” the American Chemical Society said in a statement on Wednesday. I suppose it’s also a good factoid to have on hand if you’re, say, on a first date. Of course, the number of bubbles will vary depending on your style of beer and type of glass, but if you run out of conversation topics, you can always scream, “There could be 2 million bubbles in here!” Hot singles love that sort of thing.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

DISCUSSION

burnersbabyburners
Burners Baby Burners: Discussion Inferno

“Hey Mister Owl, how many bubbles in my beer?”

“Let’s find out. One... two... three - *GLUG*... thrrrrree.