Scientists have finally answered the question on all of our minds — or at least a question that was apparently on someone’s mind.
After painstaking measurements, calculations, and maybe even a few taste tests, researchers have estimated the number of bubbles produced by a half-pint of “gently poured” lager to be somewhere between 200,000 and two million, ScienceDaily reports.
Not just a side effect of the fermentation process, beer bubbles are actually “important sensory elements of beer tasting” because they “transport flavor and scent compounds,” writes the American Chemical Society. But why count them? The better question is why not, according to lead researcher Gerard Liger-Belair, who previously unearthed the number of bubbles in a glass of champagne (spoiler: it’s about a million).
Using high-speed photography, intricate carbon dioxide measurements and expert calculations, Liger-Belair and his team were able to track bubble formation from the minute a lager was poured to the second it went flat, reports CNET. But because different beers and different glasses can greatly influence that all-important bubble count, researchers left a pretty wide range in their estimate.
Next, perhaps Liger-Belair’s team can tackle a more contentious question: how many bubbles are in regular Sprite compared to McDonald’s Sprite?