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There's no taste like foam

There's no taste like foam

Bad news on the beer front! Diageo, the British company that owns Guinness, the Irish beer, is testing new technology that will speed up the pouring of stout.

According to the Reuters news service, the testing involves the application of ultrasound technology to excite bubbles in the brew to form that famous, beautiful, white foam in 15 to 25 seconds. Heretofore, it took about two minutes to pour a pint of stout. No one ever minded. It was part of the mystique, much like the mystique of the old Jaguars, whose owners bragged about the unreliability of their cars.

There was nothing unreliable about the two-minute Guinness Stout foam. It consistently added that extra something to the drinking experience of the top-line beer, though it was hard to define just what that extra something was.

What has become unreliable, apparently, is the bottom line: Revenue is falling as Guinness consumption is declining. Diageo's corporate management lays the blame on the two-minute wait.

You see, a big potential source of revenue is beer sales at music festivals and sporting events, and no one at those events would stand for anything but a quick pour.

Eager for information on this interesting new application of ultrasound technology, your intrepid reporter called Diageo for the technical details. The corporate office referred me to the PR agency, which referred me back to the corporate office, where spokesperson Kate Blakeley could only tell me that the company had tested the technology at a music festival in Ireland. She said another small test was planned for somewhere in Great Britain. She tried to be helpful, but had no technical details.

Pity! We could all probably learn lessons that would lead to improvements in other areas of engineering. Precedents abound. Chemical engineers developed polymeric microfiltration membranes that turn red wine into white wine by filtering out the red molecules. Sounds yucky, but the technology also has improved dairy and pharmaceutical processing.

We'll pursue the details of stout-pouring technology. Meanwhile, we hope the 25-second Guinness foam is worth the wait.

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