What Is A Helium Beer? » All Helium Beer Facts In One Place
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To get to know about all the different beer out there is quite a challenge, especially when some beers are not even real. But, what is it with this helium beer, and why has it become such a huge topic? One thing's sure, you’ll need to be critical about this.
What Is A Helium Beer? A helium beer is an April's Fool issued by Stone Brewing Co. and Samuel Adams back in April 1, 2014. Stone’s April’s Fool announcement about their so-called Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium, and Samuel Adams HeliYUM beer was the one that started the whole helium beer myth.
But, what is the truth about Helium beer, and is it even possible to make a helium beer? I am here to get you through all the facts about Helium beer. And I promise you, this is not a prank, this is the truth.
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Can You Buy Helium Beer?
No, you can’t buy Helium beer. The whole thing about helium beer is a myth, so it will never be possible to buy Helium beer with a voice-pitching effect, however, this could be really cool.
The Stone Brewing Co. pretended to have invented the helium beer, but it was all made up as an April fool, which actually did become pretty viral. I mean, of course, it did, who wouldn’t like to try a helium beer.
It all started off with Stone’s false ‘release’ of this Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium. And they actually made a pretty big deal out of it. At least big enough to start a worldwide demand for Helium beer.
Along with the fake release of the Helium beer, they made a pretty convincing video, where they go into depth about the science behind the beer. In the video, their voices are retouched, so it sounds like they actually just inhaled helium.
Another video was also released by two German beer enthusiasts titled ‘’Helium Beer Test’’. This video has even gone more viral than the original Stone’s and Samuel Adams videos.
For even more knowledge about beer, try out this post: What is Ice Beer?
‘Review’ of Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale
The release of the Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale came along with a pretty funny, fake review of this non-existing beer. The review appeared as followed:
'Tasting notes, provided by Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele
Appearance: Deep gold with a creamy white head. When poured, the beer cascades similarly to a nitrogen-infused beer.
Aroma: Huge hop presence, lots of tropical fruit goodness from the Helga hops.
Taste: Light notes of toast and effervescent floral, spicy hop character from the addition of Helga.
Palate: A creamy, coating mouth-feel is lightened by the infusion of helium that also adds a slight tickle to the finish.
Overall: This beer is tasty and very strange but in a good way. I’ve never experienced the tingly feeling in the back of my throat that the helium addition provides.
I didn’t think it would be possible to add helium into a beer, but after Rick explained the science behind it, I thought it was a very intriguing idea and something we might be able to do something really neat with.
The Stochasticity Project is an avenue for us to explore new techniques and ingredients that might not fit our normal approach to brewing, so the helium idea perfectly dovetailed into this concept.
I think our fans are really going to like this ale, and we look forward to brewing other unique beers for the Stochasticity Project.
Appetizers: Pickled herring, Funyuns®, deep-fried mozzarella sticks, Blooming Onion
Soups: Cheddar, Garlic & Stone Ruination IPA Soup, beef, chicken or pork bouillon
Entrees: Vegetarian lasagna, chimichangas
Cheeses: Humboldt Fog, Kraft singles, Cheez Whiz®
Desserts: Crème brulee, Niederfranks vanilla ice cream, aged Hostess Twinkies, Heath Bar
Cigars: Dutch Masters, Swisher Sweets, White Owl Peach, blunts.'
How Is Helium Beer Made?
The helium beer is not really possible to make. At least if you want the effect, it’s not. The whole fictitious helium beer style started as an April’s Fool by a brewing company called Stone Brewing Co.
The helium beer was said to be infused with helium, which could be really cool, actually, but this is not quite possible. Below I will explain why this is not an option.
Why Helium Beer Is Not Possible
The reasons why the real helium beer isn’t really possible are:
- Helium is not soluble in beer, it’s not even soluble in water. You can’t carbonate beer with helium as you can with carbon dioxide.
- It would be impossible to add liquid helium to the beer, as helium turns from liquid to gas at -220°F (-140°C). By doing this, you would end up freezing the beer.
- Even if it actually was possible to add helium to a beer, it would cause gushing because helium can’t soluble in beer.
- Let’s say helium was possible to add to your beer, it would still not have a voice changing effect. The beer goes down to the stomach, and not into the lungs, as gas helium would do.
So, these scientific explanations might give you insight into why helium beer with a voice changing effect is not impossible. But, some scientists do claim to have made a helium beer.
And now you might ask, how? Wasn’t that impossible? And yes, it is impossible to make a helium beer with the effect we all would want for such a beer. I mean, if it doesn’t have a funny effect, why even drink it?
Are you more interested in home brewing? Read this: What is the best home brewing kit for beginners?
Does Helium Beer Exist?
Everyone who’s interested in home brewing, like me, has to become excited while hearing about new, innovative beers. This beer type especially made me excited. Helium beer, I mean, this could be hilarious to explore, right.
So, as I sat down to research this beer I became more and more skeptical. Some articles say it’s absolutely not possible to make helium beer, and some say it might be scientifically possible.
You probably already have seen the funny videos from Stone Brewing Co. and Samuel Adams, where they are talking about this helium beer. And I got immediately dragged into it.
But, with a little extra research, I quickly found out, that helium beer is not what it sounded like. And I must confess, I was really disappointed. Helium beer is not possible to make with a voice changing effect, as I was hoping for.
Though, some scientist says it’s possible to make a helium beer, just without the voice changing effect, which is not scientifically possible.
So, helium beer is not possible by infusing the beer with helium, because helium liquid first turns into a gas at -220°F. By doing this, you would end up freezing the beer. But, some beer use nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide.
Because the solubility levels of helium and nitrogen are relatively similar, it might be possible to create such a beer, some would say.
Although the helium doesn’t dissolve, it effectively piggybacked on the carbon dioxide occurring in the beer naturally and made the bubbles bigger and faster rising in the process. So, this has been tested and should be possible, just without the cool effect.
To be honest, I am thrilled that it actually is possible to make such a beer. But, I am also very disappointed it’s not possible to make a beer with this voice changing effect.
Also read: What Every Home Brewer Needs
Is There Really Helium Infused Beer?
It’s a tricky question, cause the answer is both yes and no. Most articles say it is impossible to make helium beer, and some say it is scientifically possible, and I don’t think either of them is wrong. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I’ll explain.
This whole helium beer thing started off as an April’s Fool in 2014, where actually two breweries; Stone Brewing Co. and Samuel Adams, made a video about helium beer.
In these videos, they say to have cracked the code to helium beer. And, the videos are edited so their voices change when they take a sip of the beer. And I must confess, I actually believed it for a short amount of time.
But, is there really helium infused beer? No, there is no such thing as helium beer. It is not possible to infuse the beer with helium to achieve a voice changing effect. The helium infused beer has been made, but it can’t pitch your voice.
The helium beer is not to be found anywhere, so it’s not on the market at all. This leads to the question mark around the truth of the helium infused beer.
If the helium infused beer is possible to make, just without the pretty relevant effect, how on earth is it made, if helium is not really dissolvable in water?
How Helium Beer Reportedly Was Made
Helium's solubility in water is 0.0015 g/kg. This is roughly three orders of magnitudes less than that of carbon dioxide which is has a solubility in water of 1.7 g/kg. Nitrogen's solubility is 0.019 g/kg, which is not as low as helium, but still lower than carbon dioxide.
Even though nitrogen's solubility is that low, it’s still used in some beers, to achieve a creamy mouthfeel and a fine, stable head of foam.
When most home brewers have brewed beer, they add some more sugar when bottling, which builds up pressure in the bottle and carbonates the beer. It’s easier to hook up a tank of carbon dioxide to the sealed keg when kegging. This is a process called carbonation.
In this case, the scientists who tried to make the helium beer replaces the carbon dioxide tank with a helium tank. So, instead of forcing carbonation, they forced it with helium. But, is that even possible?
Experts predicted, that because helium is essentially insoluble in water, any bubbles that formed would float to the top without changing size or speed. However, those bubbles could pick up any dissolved carbon dioxide and therefore grow and accelerate as they rise.
The scientists used a so-called Ostwald ripening. This is a process that makes the bubbles grow larger by ‘feeding’ off nearby smaller bubbles.
The effect is a coarsening of the foam. But, because the gas molecules should move through the walls of the bubbles, this process is limited by solubility.
When the fermentation of the ‘helium beer’ was complete, it was placed under 50 psi helium pressure for five days. Thereafter the pressure was dialed down to 7 to 10 psi, which is a more normal serving pressure.
So, the beer was made and reportedly appeared pretty good.
In aqueous solutions, carbon dioxide converts into carbonic acid, which gives the carbonated beverages an extra bite. Helium doesn’t work the same way, which gave the helium beer a more additional smoothness.
Bottom-line is, that the helium has been made, and it is possible. It does not have a voice changeling effect, so why waste more helium on that, when you can use nitrogen instead, and come out with the same result.
For more about measuring pressure, read this article: What Is a Manometer?
How Do You Infuse Helium Into a Drink?
You don’t really do that. As I mentioned above it is possible to infuse a beer with helium, almost like it’s possible to infuse beer with nitrogen. However, this will not give you any effect, at all.
So, people saying a helium beer is possible might be telling the truth, but people saying helium beer with a wanted voice changing effect is possible, is definitely not telling the truth.
All-in-all, you don’t waste helium to infuse drinks. Instead, use the nitrogen or just carbonate it, as usual, is my advice. The helium infusion to beer or other drinks doesn’t work.
Read the section above to find out how helium supposedly is infused into beer.
The Myth of Helium Beer
You have probably seen the videos where people claim to have tried the so-called helium beer. Even articles on the internet claim that it’s real. Which almost has to make you sit back and wonder if helium beer is actually possible?
I mean, the internet is a tricky place, and you have to be critical, right?
We have talked about the Samuel Adams video, where they talk about their HeliYUM beer, which can high-pitch your voice. But, friends, this is an April’s Fool, released April 1, 2014.
Also, we have talked about Stone Brewing Co. who also released a video of Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale with Helium, which also could high-pitch your voice. But then again, this is also an April’s Fool, released April 1, 2014.
So, the helium beer is one big April’s Fool from 2014, which still seems to put a question mark on whether helium beer is true or a myth.
But, helium is not soluble in water, so it will never mix well, as it cannot naturally bind to water molecules. However, helium beer has been made. This is made as a Grimbergen, kind of. Instead of using nitrogen, you use helium.
This gives the beer a very creamy and thick head, that will hold on to the helium. But, the helium beer will never ever be able to change your voice, so why even bother.
Helium Beer Prank
Actually, this whole helium beer prank is pretty genius. I think it is pretty impressive to go viral on a prank like this, and even almost six years later, people are still questioning whether helium beer is a truth or a myth.
The fact that it’s not true is disappointing. Try to imagine if it was actually possible to make a helium beer, amazing.
But, the whole prank started off as an April’s Fool back in 2014. Two breweries, Stone Brewing Co. and Samuel Adams both posted a video on April 1, 2014, of a newly invented helium beer, that would actually pitch your voice.
Afterward, the German Die BierProbierer posted a video where they pretended to taste this helium beer. The video shows the two German guys almost cries of laughter, over their edited voices.
After a while, the two guys then posted another video explaining, that the first video was just a prank. Though, it doesn’t seem like this video has gone just as viral as the first one.
So, this whole helium beer is all an April’s Fool, although it should reportedly be possible to make a helium beer, just without the voice changing effect.
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