Scientists have been tackling the world’s most difficult problems for centuries. However, one still baffled them—until now, that is. The challenge: stopping fresh, unshaken beer from overflowing once opened. What? That doesn’t sound like a pressing scientific issue? We beg to differ! Especially since the solution involves magnets.

What’s the Problem?

The overflowing, called gushing, is caused by fungi infecting the barley grains in the beer’s malt base. The fungi latch onto barley with surface proteins called hydrophobins. These hydrophobins attract carbon dioxide produced by the barley as it ferments, creating an excess of bubbles in the beer causing overflowing.

How Was It Fixed?

Before this breakthrough, breweries would just add hops extract, which serves as a decent antifoaming agent, to the brew. Now, all you need are magnets! When Belgian food scientists applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract the magnets dispersed the antifoaming agent into even smaller particles. The tinier particles were even better at binding to more hydrophobins, blocking the the carbon dioxide and reducing the gushing.

During tests in an actual brewery, the magnetic field was so effective at reducing gushing that they had to use less hops extract in their mixtures. Applying this to even larger batches of beer could change the brewing process entirely for the better.

A problem as small as gushing beers may seem trivial but these small steps add up to equal large leaps for scientific discovery. The more we learn about magnets and their power, the more we can utilize them to improve our daily life.

Interested in learning more about magnets and how they change the world around us? Keep an eye on our Magnets Blog!