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Space beer a step closer to coming right up

An engineer and a brewer get together to create Vostok 4, the first beer created to be truly tasty in space. They now claim the project is much closer to fruition.

You are probably so stunned about the news of Kim Kardashian's pending divorce and Tony LaRussa's retirement that you feel like a beer right this minute.

But imagine if you were up in space. Shocking news filters through, you need to sip on a cold one, and well, there are certain logistical problems. Like burping.

When you burp in space, the liquid tends to come up with the bubbles and, well, what results wouldn't go down well at the French Laundry.

You might, however, be familiar with Vostok 4-Pines Stout. This is the beery brainchild of Justin Mitchell, a gastro pub owner, and Jason Held, an aeronautical engineer.

They announced their project last year. However, the way that Bloomberg Businessweek serves it, this beer is very much closer to being a celestial breakthrough in beverages.

Held, who once worked for NASA, and Mitchell got the idea for 4-Pines Vostok when they got drunk together. Actually, that is just my imagination, but when Held moved to Australia, Mitchell's 4-Pines Brewery happened to be Held's local pub, so please allow me the flight of fancy.

The problems they faced were considerable.

As well as the carbonation problem, the two had to decide how to make the beer taste like, well, beer. In space, your tongue tends to be as numb as the skull of a Kardashian-watcher. So this beer has to be robust in the tongue-delivery department.

So they brewed away and then took their beer into its first footage of the initial zero gravity experiment, which sought to see if Vostok 4 was flat enough and tasty enough. It seemed like quite a party.

One assumes that it already tastes better than Coors Light--and a lot better than Bud. So all that's left is to find a form in which it can be transported. This is an issue that Held's company, Saber Astronautics, is currently drinking in. Somehow, it would be a shame if they had to powderize it.

Then there's the small problem of getting approval from all the authorities that regulate flying into outer space-- something that will entail repeating the zero-gravity test. But surely the regulators will look kindly on an innovative and tasty finished product.

Alcohol has been in space before. Buzz Aldrin apparently took communion wine with him. A Ukrainian astronaut Yuri Melenchenko took a swig of (what he said was) vodka on the International Space Station in 2007.

But surely, if we're all going to have to live up there because soon down here will explode into billions of tiny pieces, we'd better get a move on with sending some space beer up there.

What else are we going to do up there? Watch satellite TV? And wouldn't you want to be the first to say to your Russian space bartender: "Vlad, a Vostok."