Mission to Mars: Budweiser Sending Barley to Red Planet to Make Outer Space Beer for Humans

Although humans have yet to set foot on Mars, Budweiser is already planning what astronauts will drink when they eventually do. In March, the company announced its plans to be the Red Planet’s first brand of beer. Now, they’re taking their plan a step further by sending barley, beer’s key ingredient, into space next month.

“Budweiser is always pushing the boundaries of innovation and we are inspired by the collective American Dream to get to Mars,” Ricardo Marques, vice president at Budweiser said in a statement, according to Fortune.

The company’s ambitious plan will be carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), which is located about 220 miles above Earth. When SpaceX launches their cargo supply mission on December 4, an unusual item will be aboard: barely. In a collaborative effort, Budweiser and researchers plan to study how the grain fares in a microgravity environment.

The barley will stay up above Earth at the ISS for a month, then it will be shipped to laboratories to inspect the findings.

11_24_Budweiser A case of Budweiser, rebranded as 'America,' sits on a shelf at a grocery store, May 23, 2016, in Washington, DC. As part of an advertising campaign, cans and bottles of Budweiser will be labeled as 'America' instead of 'Budweiser' from now until the November 4th election. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Budweiser first announced its plan to get to Mars, they noted that many challenges lie in their way. For example, the atmosphere may cause the beer to turn into “foamy slop,” the company wrote in a social media post.

“Mars’ atmospheric pressure is about 100 times less than Earth’s meaning bubbles in carbonated drinks don’t rise, and gasses and liquids don’t like to separate, turning the beer into a foamy slop when removed from its packaging,” Budweiser posted to Twitter.

Additionally, hops—another primary ingredient in beer—will be unlikely to grow on Mars.

“Hops, the bitter agent in beer, needs plenty of direct sunlight, easy access to water and a lot of room for vertical growth,” Budweiser tweeted. “On Mars, the Sun appears about half the size as it does on Earth, making the use of direct sunlight for hop growth challenging.”

If the beer doesn’t successfully make its way to the planet, Budweiser claims their research is still valuable. They believe it will help researchers back down on Earth to better understand agriculture, Engadget reports.

Barley isn’t the first alcohol ingredient to make its way to the ISS. In 2011, Ardbeg (a Scottish distillery) sent a vial of unmatured malt whiskey on the spacecraft. The samples were then shipped back down to Earth three years later and studied. Findings revealed major differences in aroma and taste, according to the BBC.

"When I nosed and tasted the space samples, it became clear that much more of Ardbeg's smoky, phenolic character shone through - to reveal a different set of smoky flavours which I have not encountered here on earth before," Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling and whisky creation, told the BBC.