A Cure for Cheap Beer?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because who doesn’t want their discount brew to taste like the good stuff?
By Simon Cohen
Open the fridge, grab a frosty one, pop off the cap and enjoy. That’s the ritual performed countless times a day by us beer drinkers. And we’re all doing it wrong.
At least, that’s what Philip Petracca, co-founder of New Hampshire-based Fizzics, believes. His company’s mission is to give every one of us the “perfect pour.” How? With a home beer tap machine that uses science to improve the drinking experience, regardless of the brand. The secret to making any beer taste better is in getting a better head, Petracca claims. Beer in cans, bottles or barrels contains a lot of dissolved CO2 under pressure, he says, and when improperly handled it can cause bubbles and foam to overflow or improperly foam.
So, if the bubbles are too big — a common result of a hand-pour — our mouths perceive a “grainy” feel, which can lead many a beer drinker to avoid pouring heads altogether. But that’s a mistake, according to Petracca. Not only does the head insulate the rest of the beer from flavor-robbing oxygen (even a few minutes of air exposure can degrade the taste), but it can also help seal in the gases that give beer its effervescence, something that likewise maximizes flavor.
… produces a head with small, perfectly formed bubbles, which delivers a creamy mouthfeel — like a draft.
The Fizzics machine, which is about the size of a small kitchen appliance, produces a head with small, perfectly formed bubbles, which delivers a creamy mouthfeel — like a draft. Here’s how it works. Place a bottle, can or growler (a reusable container for transporting draft beer) — the Fizzics machine doesn’t care — inside its sealed chamber. Pull forward on the silver tap handle to pressurize the chamber, which forces the beer out of its original container and into your glass via a small plastic tube. The magic happens toward the end of the pour, when you push the tap handle backward. This action kick-starts the patented agitation process, which turns the remaining drops of liquid into an ultra-smooth head, using sound waves. There are no gas cylinders or other consumables needed — just four AA batteries.
Steve Abrams, co-founder of Canada’s Mill Street Brewery, agrees a good beer head improves the taste of a brew considerably, noting that in Europe, bartenders will often take extra time to “layer” your beer as it’s poured. Though he hasn’t tried the Fizzics, Abrams has encountered “lots of beer gadgets,” even one that lets you pour a beer with your mind. He says the Fizzics could indeed improve a beer’s taste, as long as it’s served cold. But some might find the selling price of $150 (they start shipping in October) a bit steep. Petracca defends the cost, pointing out that when compared to a night at a bar, “it’s not expensive at all, if experiences and social connections are important.”
Perhaps it’s a nice idea for a gift, but Abrams points out that “pouring beer into a glass is not rocket science,” and offers up this video for those who need a quick 101 on the technique. Rocket science or not, the Fizzics would certainly make a good conversation piece. To that, we say, “Cheers!”