Innovation

Mars Bars: Now Serving Local Martian Microbrew

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After a long day of space exploration and planetary colonization, there’s nothing better than cracking open a nice cold can of local brew. Good thing Budweiser is developing the first-ever space beer, specifically tailored for production in the microgravity environment of Mars.

Wonder if Drizly will deliver there?

Mashable reports news that the American brewing giant is sending 20 barley seeds to the International Space Station on next week’s SpaceX cargo supply mission, where they will be stored in a microgravity environment to see how they respond. This will help determine whether barley seeds could be stored and transported properly on Mars.

In a second experiment, the growth rate of the seeds will be tested. They will be fed and watered in the space station’s microgravity environment to see how they grow under those conditions.

To carry out the experiment, Budweiser teamed up with researchers from Space Tango and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space – after all, as beer drinkers like to say, beer is science.

It won’t take long to see results. Barley seeds generally grow to between six and 10 inches tall within two weeks when planted on Earth, so this initial stage of the experiment should provide answers relatively quickly. The seeds will be returned to Earth after 30 days for analysis.

Of course, lower gravity isn’t the only variable that would make growing barley on Mars a challenge. There’s also the soil composition and lack of atmosphere. The actual farming of barley on Mars would be a long way off, even if the experiment succeeds – and to carry out the full brewing process is still a distant, sci-fi dream.

But sci-fi often predicts reality, so it’s not out of the question. Once upon a time, the concept of simply tapping one’s handheld computer or speaking to a virtual assistant to have alcohol delivered to one’s door would have been viewed the same way. Today, despite complications due to regulations around transporting alcohol, successful businesses have been built around this concept.

The mobile app Drizly, for instance, has been letting customers order alcohol via their smart devices since 2012, adding investors and new areas of service over the intervening years. It now operates in 70 American cities, as well as two in Canada.

Drizly complies with the three-tiered system that governs production and sale of alcohol in the U.S. – that is, the distribution chain from producer to distributor to retailer before finally reaching the customer. So, legally speaking, Drizly is able to reach any customer in the country, even if it’s not yet available in their region.

More recently, online food delivery app DoorDash began offering alcohol delivery so that customers could enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with their takeout meal. And then there’s Saucey, the Instacart of liquor stores, which partners with brick-and-mortar retailers to bring their boozy products to customers’ homes.

Amazon has also wet its feet in alcohol delivery and sent ripples through the industry when, upon acquiring Whole Foods, it announced its plans to use the organic grocer’s brick-and-mortar stores as hubs for alcohol delivery.

However, Amazon’s WINE delivery program recently shuttered, proving that even the eCommerce giant struggles to navigate the complex waters of U.S. alcohol delivery. It remains to be seen how the venture with Whole Foods will play out.

In the short term, Budweiser will certainly enjoy some publicity for its efforts, and if barley grown during the experiment makes it all the way to the final stages of beer production, the brand will surely see a surge of consumer demand for whatever beverage is produced out of the barley seeds that head to the International Space Station on Dec. 4.

Cross your fingers, space hipsters; we could be closer than we thought to the Red Planet’s first local microbrew.

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