Thursday, July 12, 2007

Special guest contribution: What's the worst thing to mix with beer?

At my workplace there is a weekly tradition called "Friday beers". Basically, after work on Fridays, the company provides beer and wine to those who want it. Most people want it. It's a great way to get to meet other people in the company, even though some of them are a bit odd.

One person at my company has an interesting party trick: he can drink anything mixed with beer, no matter how disgusting, without hesitation. Milk and beer? Check. Orange juice and beer? Yup. Coffee and beer? Yes, that too. This led into a discussion of what the most vile beer-liquid combination would be if we weren't limited by the kitchen's poor selection. (You might ask what this has to do with science, but don't worry, there's some chemistry at the end for those who are into that.)

Lots of suggestions were made. Ketchup and beer. Ground beef and beer (even though the case for ground beef being a liquid is arguably weak). Pølsevann and beer. (Pølsevann is the Norwegian term for hot dog water.) But one suggestion sent a shudder down all of our spines: Coffee-Mate and beer.

For those who are unfamiliar with the product, Coffee-Mate is a coffee creamer: a powder you put in your coffee if you want it to be creamy. And taste horrible. You might ask, why don't people just use regular cream? I don't have an answer for you. All I know is Coffee-Mate has, inexplicably, been selling strong for 46 years.

The worst thing about Coffee-Mate, apart from the taste, is that it contains no natural ingredients. The only ingredient that has anything to do with cream is sodium caseinate. The connection? Casein is a protein found in cow's milk. It also contains dipotassium phosphate, which is a pesticide for fungal diseases as well as a fertilizer. The remainder of the ingredients are mostly corn syrup solids (yum) and various chemicals that make it look somewhat white-ish and ensure it doesn't clump. There's also a few artificial flavours in it that are supposed to make it taste like cream. They don't do a very good job, though.

There's $20 in it for the first person to post a YouTube video of him/herself drinking a beer with half a can of Coffee-Mate mixed in it.

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