Sam Adams will craft beer using hops sent into Earth’s orbit on SpaceX’s Inspiration4

sam adams space beer
  • Sam Adams will brewing a beer out of the hops sent into orbit onboard SpaceX’s Inspiration4.
  • The company arranged to exclusively obtain the supply after a Twitter callout from SpaceX and Jared Isaacman.
  • Breweries and agricultural scientists have sent ingredients to space before to analyze the effects of microgravity on beer production.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Besides a ukulele, some poetry, and NFTs, the all-civilian crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission also brought along 66 pounds of hops, which will be given to Samuel Adams Boston Brewery to concoct a limited-edition “space beer.”

Jared Isaacman, the billionaire owner of Fast4Company funding the Inspiration4 mission, sent a tweet in August calling to auction off the hops load to a brewery to benefit St. Jude children’s hospital.

“Space hops! Far out,” the Sam Adams Twitter account tweeted back. “We’ll take this to the brewery team.”

The company got its head brewer, David Grinell, on the phone with the Inspiration4 team prior to Wednesday’s launch to iron out the details of the beer production, a spokesperson told Insider.

As part of the hops acquisition, Sam Adams has also agreed to donate $100,000 to St. Jude toward a goal set by Isaacman. Isaacman aims to raise a total of $200 million for St. Jude for pediatric-cancer research.

“We’ve actually always talked about sending beer to space,” Matt Withington, director or marketing at Sam Adams told Insider. “Jared’s tweet, and the immediate response from our drinkers, signaled the right moment for us to jump on and fulfill this dream.”

SpaceX’s first all-civilian crew launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. The four crew members will spend three days in Earth’s orbit performing scientific research, making art, and taking in the views.

Insider calculated the cost to transport a pound of cargo on the Crew Dragon spaceship is about $5,500, according to numbers provided by Space.com. That makes the cost of sending the 66 pounds of hops around $361,000. Sam Adams has not yet determined a price for the brewed beer once the hops come back down to Earth.

This is far from the first crew to take part in this alcohol space race. Coors sponsored an experiment in 1994 to test fermentation in space. Japanese brewer Sapporo produced a $110 six-pack using barley seeds send up to space by Japanese and Russian researchers in 2006. Anheuser-Busch has sent several samples of barley to the International Space Station, the latest in 2019, to determine the effects of microgravity on barley seeds. 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine were also sent to space in 2019, which were expected to be valued at $1 million per bottle.

Scientists and brewing experts are still unsure about the definitive effects of a microgravity environment ingredients used to make beer. One University of Colorado research project found that beer brewed in space can contain a higher level of alcohol than on the ground. The Boston brewery says it is excited to see what kind of beer it can brew with Inspriation4’s hops.

The currently unnamed Sam Adams-produced beer, which the company says will probably be a traditional West Coast IPA, will go on sale later this fall, according to the company.

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We tried 3 coffee subscriptions – Pact, Grind, and Kiss the Hippo. From super-fresh roasts to millennial pink tins, here’s what to expect.

A drop of coffee falls into a half-full coffee pot from a dripper
Something’s brewing.

  • Insider tested subscriptions in London from Pact, Grind, and Kiss the Hippo coffee brands.
  • The market is growing fast. Grind’s director said about 75% of its subscribers joined this year.
  • Each brand Insider tried was refreshingly distinct – because of its marketing, as well as its taste.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During lockdown last year, Martin Gausby, a Danish developer living in London, subscribed to a coffee delivery service and discovered that the bean’s arrival became a weekly highlight.

“I get my coffee from Square Mile Coffee, a company founded by James Hoffman right here in London,” Gausby said a few days ago. “He has a YouTube channel about all sorts of coffee-related stuff, and I enjoy that, so I like supporting him by having a subscription to his coffee.”

Over the last few weeks, Insider tested a few coffee subscriptions services in London to see how they worked. Our choices were Pact, Kiss the Hippo, and Grind.

Two days, three boxes of coffee

The first two packages – Kiss the Hippo and Grind – arrived three days after the orders were placed. The Pact delivery came the following afternoon.

The boxes from Pact and Kiss the Hippo were slim enough to fit through the mail slot. The first delivery of Grind came with a tin, so it was a bit thicker but the company said the following packages are letterbox-friendly.

Coffee packages from Pact, Grind, and Kiss the Hippo in front of white tiles
Deliveries from Pact, Grind, Kiss the Hippo.

Many friendly emails arrived over the next few days. Each company wanted feedback on the coffee.

Of the three companies, Kiss the Hippo sent the most emails. “Look out for the postman,” said a subject line when the coffee shipped. The following day, before the coffee arrived, another email said, “Do You Have Everything You Need?” with a range of coffee-brewing products for sale. When the coffee arrived the following day, an email said, “Something Big is Here!”

A can of Grind coffee beans seen from above next to a green plant
Grind coffee beans.

In the month following our order, more than a dozen of Kiss the Hippo’s chatty emails arrived, compared to a few each from the other brands. Insider has reached out to the company for comment.

Pact promises ‘rare’ coffees

Each of the three roasters had similar ordering routines. Their websites were flowchart-like, with each answer leading to another. Pact’s had the most questions.

A purple bag of Pact Micro-lot coffee on a gray kitchen counter
Pact in a purple package. “Micro-lot is very much targeted at the coffee veteran with rare coffees we have sourced, often from some of the remotest places but where the conditions and terrain are ideal for growing the best coffee beans,” CEO Paul Turton said.

Pact first asked for a choice between regular or decaf. Then asked how the coffee would be brewed – Aeropress, Chemex, espresso machine, etc. After choosing the Hario V60, a pour-over, the site asked whether the order would be wholebean or medium grind. Wholebean for us.

And the final step was choosing your coffee from three options for 250-gram bags. A £6.95 House blend, a £7.95 Select roast, or a £9.95 Micro-lot, which was said to be, “Rare, high-scoring coffees.”

Our La Pederogosa “Micro-lot” beans were grown in Colombia by Mauricio Vega. The packaging said they were roasted on the day of the order, and packaged the followed day in London by Emily, whose last name wasn’t given.

Last year, Pact Coffee CEO Paul Turton told Insider that its subscriber list was growing quickly amid the UK lockdowns. Many of those subscribers have stuck around, he said a few days ago.

“The ‘covid cohort’ as we call it – or those who joined us after March 2020 have stayed loyal to us despite restrictions easing, especially now everyone has had the chance to fully experience Pact’s proposition over a pretty long period,” he said via email.

Grind is Instagram-friendly

Shoreditch-based Grind had the most eye-catching packaging, and the highest follower count on Instagram. The brand got its start in 2011, making it the oldest of the three.

“We’d been quietly working on our coffee-at-home project for about a year when the pandemic forced us to close all of our cafés,” Ted Robinson, Grind’s director, said a few weeks ago.

Between February and May last year, orders grew by a multiple of 30, he said. Growth has continued, with more than 75% of the company’s subscribers joining in 2021.

The house roast cost £13.50 per delivery, but plan pricing for each brand was based on how many cups you drink per day. Our first order from Grind included a reusable tin in millennial pink.

A pink coffee tin in a package from Grind Coffee in London
A delivery from Grind Coffee in London. “We’ve had the pink for a long, long time, although it feels like it’s everywhere now. There’s not much of a story to it – at one point someone wrote that we’d invented the millennial pink color – but I don’t think we’d go that far,” Robinson said.

Grind didn’t say where the coffee had been grown or roasted, but said it was “shipped climate neutral.”

“We’ve offset the carbon emissions of all our deliveries for almost a year, protecting over 40,000 trees in the Jari Pará Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon,” the company said on a little card slipped into the box.

Robinson said the company has “helped over 100,000 people make better, more sustainable coffee at home” during the pandemic. Many of those buyers, he said, have stuck around even as the city reopens.

Kiss the Hippo promotes its farmers

Like Pact, Kiss the Hippo used its packaging to promote the small farms on which the beans were grown.

Our slim bag with a little red hippo logo was full of coffee from El Salvador. A label on the back said the Red Pacamara beans had been grown by The Diaz Family.

The family – Jose Efrin, Jose William, Arnulfo, and Santos – works on a few farms that “sit close together where they pool resources and elevate each other through a collective family bond.”

A cardboard box with a bag of Kiss the Hippo coffee with a red hippo logo
Kiss the Hippo coffee.

The coffee itself came with tasting notes: acidity at 4/5 and body at 3/5. It was pitched as having notes of “elderflower, apricot, lemon.” Our single-origin whole-bean option cost £12 per delivery.

Three fresh brews, all very good

Each of the brands had their own distinct flavors. Kiss the Hippo had a lemon zest, light and airy, as its tasting notes said. Grind was richer and darker. Pact was somewhere in the middle, balanced and a little earthy. The beans seemed fresher than what those from high-end grocery store in London, in part because they were roasted within the last few days. All were very good.

What stuck out in the end was not the beans, but the marketing – especially the way that Pact and Kiss the Hippo both promoted the local farmers. The messaging from all three leaned heavily into domestic, eco-friendly, and agrarian messaging, even if the farms that grew the beans were on another continent.

“Most of these small farms have been in the family for generations and we’re lucky enough to share their amazing coffee with the Pact community,” said Pact’s Turton.

Did knowing that the Diaz family grew our Kiss the Hippo beans in El Salvador make the coffee taste better? No, probably not. Did it give us something interesting to think about as we took our first sip of coffee? Yes, it honestly did.

Coffee brewing in a Hario V60 drip brewer in front of white tiles
Brewing with a Hario V60 ceramic dripper in London.

The coffee that Gausby, the Danish developer, gets delivered from Square Mile has also been fresher than what he was used to at the grocery store, he said.

“I will move home to Denmark at the end of next month,” he said, “but I will strongly consider setting up a subscription with a local roastery.”

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