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Old 03-25-2020, 06:37 AM
DrForrester is offline
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Metal Additive in beer


Back in the 1970s, while attending my freshman chemistry class in college, the professor told us a story about beer. The exact details have faded from my memory, which is why I am posting this here. I am hoping that someone will be able to point me in the direction of further information.

Anyway, the story was that back a few decades further, possibly the 1950s, a beer manufacturer, hoping to improve their products, had run a series of taste tests. One observation was that the customers preferred the beers which left foam in the glass after it was emptied. This correlation, between foam and drinking pleasure, was closely examined. What caused the foam to linger? Was there a way of doing it intentionally?

They found a relationship between an element (barium? I feel certain that it began with a B and was a heavy metal.) and the resilience of the foam. So, hey, they added more of it artificially. This improved the foam and improved customer satisfaction. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, it turned out that some people consume more beer than, perhaps, they should. They were consuming more of the mystery element than their bodies could excrete... and they were ultimately poisoned. It lingers in my mind that a few people died (maybe 5 or 6).

The additive was removed & remains unavailable.

I thought I'd be able to find advertising or some Food Safety journal to refresh my memory, but I haven't turned up anything that seems right. It's possible that it was only on the market for a few weeks, many decades ago now... So, maybe it's not too surprising that there's not a wealth of information out there about it.

Shine On!
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Old 03-25-2020, 06:52 AM
Joey P is offline
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Cobalt.
It makes the head last longer and causes cardiomyopathy.

Last edited by Joey P; 03-25-2020 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:29 AM
Saturn Dreams is offline
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I think you might be referring to the Dow Breweries case in Canada back in the 60s. Apparently it was common practice at that time for Quebec breweries to add cobalt sulphate to their beers to stabilize the foam but Dow added so much that it caused the death of over 20 people. There was no smoking gun link between the cobalt and the disease that caused their deaths but as soon as they stopped using the chemical, the deaths stopped.
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Old 03-25-2020, 08:22 AM
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Wow! You guys are really fast! I love that one of the replies came from someone in Milwaukee, WI!
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Old 03-25-2020, 01:28 PM
Squink is offline
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One of the big Danish brewers, Carlsburg?, It's been years, published a periodic table of the elements including the effect of each element on beer foamyness/wildness. Back in the 1950's, IIRC. Wildness is the property of beer to come shooting out of the bottle as foam when you first open it.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:25 PM
Kanzan is offline
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foam


Not a heavy metal, but in the late 70's there were persistent rumors that Michelob and others added detergents to their beers to make a good solid head. Maybe the big brewers still do?
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:32 PM
jnglmassiv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanzan View Post
Not a heavy metal, but in the late 70's there were persistent rumors that Michelob and others added detergents to their beers to make a good solid head. Maybe the big brewers still do?
About a year ago, Miller Lite and Bud Light had rival ad campaigns touting their short ingredient lists. They're [water, barley malt, yeast, hops, hop extract and corn syrup] & [barley, rice, hops and water], respectively.
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:37 PM
Melbourne is offline
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In Aus, the big brewers (and probably the small brewers) don't add anything to their beer. Even if they could avoid food labeling requirements here (I don't know what the rules would be), it would mess with their export markets. Including, but not limited to, Germany, where if it has anything included, it's not "beer", and can't be sold as such.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:44 PM
Kanzan is offline
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Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
In Aus, the big brewers (and probably the small brewers) don't add anything to their beer. Even if they could avoid food labeling requirements here (I don't know what the rules would be), it would mess with their export markets. Including, but not limited to, Germany, where if it has anything included, it's not "beer", and can't be sold as such.
Totally true. German beer is always safe, don't ever have to worry about what you're ingesting. I'm not really sure that the laws in the US don't allow companies to bypass any mention of things like food-grade detergents, but let's hope so. Anyway, I usually drink microbrews these days, safer and tastier. (hopefully...)
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Old 03-25-2020, 10:09 PM
thelurkinghorror is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squink View Post
One of the big Danish brewers, Carlsburg?, It's been years, published a periodic table of the elements including the effect of each element on beer foamyness/wildness. Back in the 1950's, IIRC. Wildness is the property of beer to come shooting out of the bottle as foam when you first open it.
Which jerk element is it that makes no foam when you open it, nor on the first few sips, but as sometimes when you put it down every so gently it decides to go crazy foamy?
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:23 PM
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Which jerk element is it that makes no foam when you open it, nor on the first few sips, but as sometimes when you put it down every so gently it decides to go crazy foamy?
Was it super cooled?
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:47 PM
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Was it super cooled?
Fridge, not in the back or anything. It happens regularly with certain brands, for example Boston Beer/Sam Adams no matter the flavor.
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Old 03-27-2020, 06:43 PM
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z


Some tall cans have CO2 cartridges in them that release the gas when external pressure is lowered by opening the can. It's supposed to imitate a draft beer. I don't know about Sam Adams, most of the ones I've seen were English or Irish imports.
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