Drinking Science

The production of alcohol probably began by accident, but today it is a highly scientific and increasingly well-understood process, whether that’s fermenting beer and wine or distilling spirits. In this section we discuss questions around topics such as the accelerated aging of spirits, when and why certain products spoil, and even whether absinthe can make you go crazy. A lot of our coverage here is experimental, with deep dives into everything from glassware to various types of beverage cooling systems.

Top Drinking Science Posts:

Experiment: Ice vs. Whiskey Stones vs. Tilt Chilling Sphere
Does Absinthe Make You Hallucinate?
What’s the Difference Between a Pot Still and a Column Still?
All About Dusties: 1970s vs. 2018 Bourbon Tasted Side by Side
Does Glass Shape Affect the Way a Whiskey Tastes?
How to Build a Better Bourbon: The Science Behind Buffalo Trace and the Lessons of the Single Oak Project
Cork vs. Screwcap: Here Comes the Science
Why Are Some Spirits Rested in Stainless Steel?

Tasting Ron Zacapa 23 Rum, Step by Step

By Christopher Null | July 18, 2012 |

Recently I received a delightful little kit put together by the folks who make one of the best rums on the market, Zacapa 23. The idea: To taste what this complicated spirit is like at each step of its long production. Zacapa is made using a solera process, a complex system where a spirit is…

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miller lite punch top

Hands on With Miller’s “Punch Top” Can

By Christopher Null | June 18, 2012 |

First came the wide mouth. Now comes the punch top. By now you’ve seen the ads touting Miller’s newest beer can technology: A little hole opposite the can’s mouth designed to prevent the “glug” effect, caused by air rushing into the can to replace the outgoing beer through the same orifice that the beer’s coming…

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Now THAT’S a Drinking Problem!

By Christopher Null | April 19, 2012 |

I don’t think I could even drink 10 liters of water a day. From Fox News: A New Zealand mother of eight has died after drinking 10 liters of Coca-Cola a day, a coroner’s investigation heard. Natasha Harris, 30, suffered a cardiac arrest that her partner believes was brought on by her massive soft drink…

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Alcohol Can Turn You Into MacGyver

By Christopher Null | April 11, 2012 |

Usually the news about alcohol is about whether or not it can help or cause heart attacks, strokes, cancer, or other maladies, but today’s headline is different. Medical Daily reports “Drinking Alcohol May Significantly Enhance Problem Solving Skills.” That drinking a few beers can make you better at logic puzzles. Scientists found that men who…

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Giving New Meaning to High-Octane Booze

By Christopher Null | March 19, 2012 |

According to Mother Jones, the waste products from whiskey-making are being turned into fuel. Here’s how it works: To make Scotch whiskey, you take barley, separate out the sugar, add water and yeast, and ferment it. The result is similar to beer. The next step is to distill the alcohol from that beer in pots.…

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The End of Hangovers, Alcoholism… and Getting Drunk?

By Christopher Null | January 11, 2012 |

Could a Chinese pill end your hangover… and cure alcoholism? The trick is to keep you from getting drunk in the first place. Imagine a pill that could instantly sober you up no matter how much you’ve had to drink, or a hangover cure that worked minutes after swallowing it. Hardened drinkers rejoice: researchers are…

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LG’s “Blast Chiller” Refrigerator Ices Down Your Beer in 5 Minutes

By Christopher Null | January 10, 2012 |

Waiting for a drink to get cold enough in the fridge or freezer is one of life’s biggest frustrations. The scientists at LG have turned to science to solve the problem. I saw this in operation today at CES. It’s so crazy… it just might work. Enter the Blast Chiller – a new feature in…

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Today I Learned…

By Christopher Null | December 29, 2011 |

1 in 4 people never get hangovers. More anti-hangover tips to help prepare you for New Year’s Eve in this Washington Post piece.

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Was 361 a Good Year?

By Christopher Null | December 9, 2011 |

I’d be afraid to touch it, too. It looks possessed. Scientists want to study samples of the world’s oldest wine, currently on display at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in the western German city of Speyer. There’s just one problem: everyone’s afraid to open the bottle. The glass bottle, thought to be at least…

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Please, Tip Your Waitresses

By Christopher Null | December 1, 2011 |

Ever wonder how much you should tip your bartender? Here comes the science, courtesy of Sailor Jerry rum and in honor of Bartender Appreciation Day, which apparently exists. NEW YORK, December 1, 2011 – – December 9 is Bartender Appreciation Day (www.bartendersday.com) and, to celebrate the hard work and graft of bartenders across the country,…

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