Bubble nucleation in stout beers

W. T. Lee, J. S. McKechnie, M. G. Devereux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Bubble nucleation in weakly supersaturated solutions of carbon dioxide-such as champagne, sparkling wines, and carbonated beers-is well understood. Bubbles grow and detach from nucleation sites: gas pockets trapped within hollow cellulose fibers. This mechanism appears not to be active in stout beers that are supersaturated solutions of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. In their canned forms these beers require additional technology (widgets) to release the bubbles which will form the head of the beer. We extend the mathematical model of bubble nucleation in carbonated liquids to the case of two gases and show that this nucleation mechanism is active in stout beers, though substantially slower than in carbonated beers and confirm this by observation. A rough calculation suggests that despite the slowness of the process, applying a coating of hollow porous fibers to the inside of a can or bottle could be a potential replacement for widgets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051609
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2011
Externally publishedYes


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