Tapping a Can Won’t Save Your Beer

A partially opened beer can, covered in foam.

It happens to the best of us: sometimes our beer gets shaken up during transit. One common reaction to this is to tap the side of the can repeatedly before opening, but a new scientific study shows that tapping doesn’t affect the volume of beer lost. Danish scientists tested over 1,000 cans of beer in randomized combinations of shaken, unshaken, tapped, and untapped, and observed no difference between tapped and untapped cans.

The foam-up upon opening takes place in shaken beer because carbon dioxide bubbles form in the pressurized beer, especially along defects in the wall where bubbles can nucleate. When the pressure is released, the carbon dioxide becomes supersaturated and comes out of solution, especially into the pre-formed bubbles, which rapidly grow and overflow. In theory, tapping could disturb those bubbles before opening, but in practice, it makes no difference. Your best bet? Give the beer time to settle before you open it. (Image credit: Q. Dombrowski; research credit: E. Sopina et al.; via Ars Technica)

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