Is your beer safe to drink after it has been close to an atmoic bomb explosion? It turns out in 1957 the US govenment asked just that question in their study “The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages”.
Written by three executives from Can Manufacturers Institute and the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute for the Federal Civil Defense Administration, the study says that after placing cans and bottles of soda and beer next to an actual atomic explosion, after measuring subsequent radioactivity and after actual taste tests, go ahead: Grab that can, pop it open and drink away.
“These beverages could be used as potable water sources for immediate emergency purposes as soon as the storage area is safe to enter after a nuclear explosion.”
… in 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs, one “with an energy release equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT,” the other 30 kilotons, at a test site in Nevada. Bottles and cans were carefully placed various distances from ground zero. The closest containers were placed “less than a quarter-mile away, a mere 1,056 feet,” the outliers a couple of miles off. Some were buried, some left in batches, others were placed side by side. Lots of bottles survived, too. Some were shattered by flying debris, fell off shelves, or got crushed by collapsing materials, but a surprising number stayed intact.
Will the beer be radioactive?
As for radiation, they checked, and found that bottles closest to ground zero were indeed radioactive, but only mildly so. Exposure, the authors say, “did not carry over to the contents.” The sodas and beer were “well within the permissible limits for emergency use,” which means… “It won’t hurt you in the short term.”
Will it taste good?
But what about taste? Post-bomb beer might not poison you, but will it keep its flavor?
The report says, “Immediate taste tests [gotta wonder who got that job] indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change in some of the products exposed at 1,270 feet from Ground Zero.” The most blasted beers were “definitely off.”
The first tasters then passed samples to selected laboratories for further testing, and this time the contents were rated “acceptable.” So here’s your government’s considered advice: Should you find yourself near an atomic blast and run short of potable water, you can chug a Coke or a beer, but don’t expect it to taste great.
So there you have it. If you’ve near an atomic bomb explosion and you’re wondering if you can drink the nearby beer, go for it. With the world coming to an end, why not enjoying a great craft beer.