You might be thinking, isn’t Helium used to inflate balloons? What does it have to do with your beer?
To ease your mind off of these questions upfront: yes, Helium is perfect for filling birthday balloons. More specifically, Helium’s buoyancy is the property that most people are familiar with, making the balloon puff up.
The Growler Guys, a company that provides craft beverage retail sales, wrote about “Understanding the 4 Main Ingredients of Beer” on their website. They said that the primary components of a typical beer include: water, malts, and hops that provide beer a considerable portion of its taste, fragrance, bitterness, and yeast which brings everything together into a beer.
Now, when does Helium get combined with beer? Is Helium beer real? Can people get drunk with it?
Let’s dive into details and learn everything about Helium beer.
What is Helium beer?
Helium beer went viral again on social media and reached about 40 million Facebook views since being posted in 2017. In the video, two German guys tried beer glasses infused with Helium. After drinking Helium beer, their voices suddenly sounded like a Chipmunk. It made the video so hilarious and contagious to anyone who watched it.
This viral video sparked (or re-sparked) people’s curiosity about Helium beer and its authenticity. Many sources say that given how little Helium dissolves in water, making a Helium beer is impossible. Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN) posted an article entitled “Helium Beer, From Prank To Tank,” which confirmed that Helium is far less soluble in water than Carbon Dioxide, with a solubility of 0.0015 g/kg compared to 1.7 g/kg.
Craig Bettenhausen, an associate editor at C&EN with an MA in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, spoke alongside Kevin Wepasnick, an expert homebrewer and surface scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the same university, have debunked this statement.
In an interview with Reactions, a web series produced by the American Chemical Society, Bettenhausen said that Helium has some solubility. Wepasnick supported that by saying that nothing is insoluble and everything has some degree of solubility.
According to Engineering Toolbox, a reliable provider of resources, tools, and basic information for engineering and technical application designs, who put together the data on the Gas Solubility Chart, noted that the solubility of Nitrogen is 0.019 g/kg. It is still significantly lower than Carbon Dioxide, though not as common as Helium. Yet famous beers like Guinness, which have a creamy texture and a fine, steady head of foam, use Nitrogen instead of Carbon Dioxide to accomplish this.
Does Helium beer exist?
You may have searched the internet and repeatedly seen vlogs or posts saying Helium beer does not exist. You might probably even run into Samaual Adam’s Youtube video that went viral too. In this Youtube post, Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Samuel Adams (the Boston Beer Company’s primary brand), introduced Heli-YUM.
He described it by saying that Heli-YUM is a “radical, extreme new beer” and that it is notable as it has properties of Helium. He also added that infusing Helium into beer has an incredible impact. While telling all the details of how amazing Heli-YUM is, he takes a few sips throughout the video. You’ll notice that he sounded like Chipmunk.
If you look closely, the posted date of the video was April 1st, 2014. Yes, it was an April Fool’s prank and a good one. It was so good that later on, Samuel Adams’ had to put an FAQ statement on their website clarifying that Heli-Yum is a made-up item. They added that they enjoyed creating the video and received a great reaction to it. They further explained that Helium is one of the least soluble noble gases. Thus adding it to beer would be rather challenging.
However, when you go back to the Gas Solubility Chart’s context, Helium has somewhat similar solubility to Nitrogen, and brewers use Nitrogen like Guinness Nitrogen beer. Merging Samuel Adams’ statement with the surface scientist at Anderson Materials Evaluation, Kevin Wepasnick, both did not precisely say that infusing beer with Helium is impossible.
Apart from debunking the Helium beer hoax, Wepasnick also brewed samples of Helium-infused beer. After this, he concluded that Nitrogen and Helium beer compared didn’t have significant differences aside from Helium beer having a less carbonated, less acidic, and creamier taste.
Thus, technically, Helium beer does (or can) exist.
You’ll learn more about this as you go through the succeeding sections of this article.
How you infused beer with helium?
The majority of homebrewers bottle or keg their 5-gallon quantities of beer. When sugar is fermented, yeast turns it into alcohol and Carbon Dioxide. A little more sugar is added during bottling, creating pressure within the bottle and carbonating the beer. It is simpler to force carbonate beer by connecting it to a Carbon Dioxide tank to a sealed keg while kegging.
In making a Helium-infused beer, you can replace the Carbon Dioxide tank with a helium tank and forcibly “heliuminate” instead of carbonating. Let’s elaborate on this in the next section.
How to make Helium beer?
First, here are the items you’ll need to infuse Helium into a single-serving canned beer: a pet bottle, a gas hose, carbonation caps/attachments, ready-made beer like Coors Light, and, of course, Helium.
Now, the first thing to do is to flatten the beer so you can infuse it with Helium. To do that, open and pour the entire can of ready-made beer into the pet bottle. And then, cover the pet bottle with the carbonation cap. Make sure it’s sealed tight so it won’t spill because the next step would be shaking the pet bottle filled with beer.
After shaking it for about 2 to 3 minutes, remove the lid from the pet bottle and let it rest for about a week. After letting it rest, 80% of the beer bubbles are gone.
Next, you can set up the Helium by attaching the hose with a carbonation cap nozzle to the Helium tank nozzle. Once you’ve done that, grab the pet bottle filled with flat beer and squeeze the bottle enough to remove all the excess oxygen inside until the beer content reaches the topmost portion of the bottle leaving only the liquid flat beer and a few beer bubbles inside. And then seal it with another carbonation cap. It’s okay to let some of the foam out.
Then, you can now start turning the Helium tank nob on. For this step, ensure that there’s no gas leakage and that all excess oxygen exits the hose.
Once you’ve secured that, you can now attach the other end of the hose to the carbonation cap lid of the squeezed pet bottle. Doing so will create a popping sound similar to popping off a champagne bottle. That sound means that the squeezed pet bottle with flat beer has been filled instantly with Helium.
You can turn off the Helium tank nozzle once you’ve noticed that the pet bottle has enough gas inside and returned to its natural form. Then, detach the hose from the pet bottle and shake the beer bottle infused with Helium for about 2 to 3 minutes. And then let it sit for about a week to allow the Helium to settle in with the taste of the beer. And that’s it!! You’re own instant helium beer.
Helium Beer Brands
After Samuel Adams’ uploaded their Youtube video introduction of Heli-YUM, Stone Brewing also made a similar one introducing what they called “Sonte Stochasticity Project Cre (He) am Ale.” They highlighted the kind of beer brewing innovation they did.
In the video, they mentioned forms of gas like Carbon Dioxide, a natural byproduct of fermentation, and Nitrogen, as some of the brewers add to beer. And then they went on and on about how they came up with the bizarre idea of heliuminate their beer. Towards the end, and similar to the Heli-YUM video, they described how tastier it is in a high-pitched voice after taking a few sips. Not only that, but the Youtube uploaded date was also April 1st.
If Samual Adams’ made an FAQ statement to clarify Heli-YUM’s purchasability, Stone Brewing posted an article supporting the Stone Stochasticity Project Cr(He)am Ale release on their website. They ended it strong with a single line saying, “Happy April Fools Day!”.
So, if you’re looking for hypothetical Helium beer brewers, Samuel Adams and Stone Brewing are the ones for you. By the way, both of these companies are real. Helium beer is just their made-up product.
Does Helium beer make you drunker?
The simple answer is: yes. Helium beer can still get you drunk if consumed in excessive amounts. It’s because, just like any other beer, Helium beer still has alcohol content. Thus, it can make you drunk.
Depending on your tolerance and the percentage of alcohol content in your choice of beer, drinking 500 ml of beer in an hour or 650 ml of beer in two hours, you may become intoxicated. But, again, your drunken state isn’t because of the beer having Helium. It’s just because your beer is a beer.
Where to buy Helium beer?
Another simple answer to this is: nowhere. Here’s a long and profound explanation of it.
Throughout this article, you’ll understand that there aren’t noticeable differences between the quality of Helium beer and regular beer. It offers no advantage over bottled, canned, or draft beers. Contrary to the April Fools’ videos, it does not raise your voice’ pitch when you drink Helium beer should find or make yourself one.
Bringing back Kevin Wepasnick’s interview with Reactions, when asked if it’s worth it to manufacture Helium beer, he responded that he wouldn’t bother making Helium beer and wasting Helium. Craig Bettenhausen added that there is a Helium shortage that the science world is facing.
Forbes’ Editor’s Pick article written by Dr. Omer Awan MD MPH CIIP, a practicing radiologist physician, called “Why The Global Helium Shortage May Be The World’s Next Medical . Crisis”. He mentioned that the primary cause of the world’s helium scarcity is a reduction in supply. It’s from the key manufacturers, particularly Russia, whose reduced output is caused by the conflict in Ukraine. Helium is an essential component for all MRIs to function correctly.
The radiology professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Mahadevappa Mahesh, can vouch for their claims confirming that Helium has grown to be a severe issue in a news article reported by Caroline Hopkins of NBC News.
Caroline Hopkins, a writer who focuses on health and science and writes about cancer therapy for Precision Oncology News and an NBC News contributor, wrote a report entitled, “The world is running out of helium. Here’s why doctors are worried.”
Hopkins gathered that doctors are concerned about one of the most crucial—and possibly unexpected—applications of natural gas due to a worldwide Helium shortage: MRIs, the abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging. It allows medical professionals to view organ, bone, and tissue characteristics that X-rays might not be able to notice. Hopkins added that there is no alternative to Helium. Without Helium, it could lead to shutting down the use of MRIs. And this will cause lives.
So, between making Helium beer and saving lives using Helium, you have to be the hero and choose the latter.
Against all those sources who said making Helium beer is impossible, your best bet is that they haven’t attempted making one yet. Helium beer can exist. Master breweries can also make Helium-infused beer if resources would allow them to.
But will it be worth the trouble? You wouldn’t think so. There are far better-tasting types of beer out there for your enjoyment which does not involve a further shortage of Helium around the world. Plus, Helium doesn’t taste any better or make you more wasted than those carefully made-to-perfection beers by brewing companies.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.