Obviously, brewing beer on Mars isn’t a high priority in the scheme of things, but the project embodies the opportunities and challenges involved in figuring out how we can integrate the creature comforts that astronaut Anderson considers supremely important on future missions. For one, it’s a major consumer brand -- one with an annual revenue of $15 billion -- indicating to other major consumer brands that investing in space food and drink research is worthwhile, despite Martian colonization seeming an intangible feat to most of us at this moment. As Val Toothman, Budweiser’s VP of Marketing Innovation put it: "When we colonize Mars as a human race, we know that people aren’t just going to be living the bare-bones existence. They’ll want to be able to come home, watch TV, and drink an ice-cold Bud at the end of the day.”
It’s also entirely plausible that Budweiser's in-space testing -- or any other big brand that partners with CASIS going forward -- leads to improvement of the product down here on Earth. Coca-Cola figured out how to better its consumer packaging by testing a special system for dispensing carbonated beverages in space. If sending the specific barley malt and yeast used in Budweiser’s recipe into space -- an experiment that's actively being planned -- helps the company develop more hearty or disease-resistant strains of the stuff to grow here, that would likely set off a trend where the Krafts, Campbell’s, and General Mills of the world start seeing concrete value in testing their products there, and, way down the line, developing “space” versions of their most popular items to be enjoyed by astronauts and interplanetary tourists alike.
Ensuring a food item or beverage tastes the same in space as it does on Earth actually poses quite a challenge because the body encounters something known as a “fluid shift” once it leaves the atmosphere and enters microgravity. This not only affects how one’s blood flows and causes things like face puffiness, it also messes with sinuses and changes how and what a person can taste. That can mean heightening flavors so they pop as they would on Earth. As Anderson explained, “Sometimes astronauts like to have very spicy food, like shrimp cocktail in red sauce. Or they add Tabasco or spicy things like horseradish to their food to make them more presentable to their palate.”
This means brands are tasked with figuring out how to make a Bud taste like a Bud or Campbell’s Tomato Soup taste like Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and not a diluted or entirely different version.
These may seem like trivial issues to be considering when we're still in a place where public perception of colonizing a new planet seems outlandish, but why not start now when it's a bridge we'll have to cross eventually? These potential partnerships with the ISS will usher in the next phase in the long slog to get humans on Mars. As Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, our own government (the current White House aside), and many other thought leaders of futurism agree, we’re at the dawn of a new era, where the hot new entrepreneurial trend will be conducting the R&D for the technology necessary to make those jam-packed space cruises -- filled with men, women, and children sent to colonize our next planet -- feel like home.