Okay, so it isn’t a true mystery in the sense of a whodunit.
But it does involve beer – yay! – and I did have to do a bit of sleuthing.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try a new recipe from my cooking classes. I had a hunch my lads would enjoy Potato Cheddar Guinness Soup. There’s just something enticingly tasty about cheese and beer together, right?
The only ingredient I didn’t have was the Guinness beer, and so I stopped by the local beer store to find some. I used their computer system to search for it, and when the attendant brought me the two over-sized cans, they looked like regular, aluminum beer cans. Kinda snazzy with black background and gold lettering.
And when I opened up the one can – keeping the other for a future soup-making session – I poured all the contents into the soup…..and oh! What a wonderful aroma coming from the soup pot!
It was THEN…..as I turned the can back over to its upright position in order to put it off to the side, that I heard a dull clink sound inside the can. How bizarre! But I had to stay focused on finishing the soup and then cutting up the fresh baked bread to be served to my family.
Later on while doing the dishes, I again turned my attention to the can with the curious noise. I turned the can upside down again, then shook it around, then tried peering into the small opening made with the snap opener…..but couldn’t really see the object inside the can that was making the fun little clink tones.
I asked my lads if they knew if this was a normal thing to find in a can of Guinness? And yes, apparently, there is a tradition of some round bauble thing inside the can.
To make the beer taste better, they said.
By now some of you would have said, why don’t you just google it! That seems to be the catch phrase these days. I’m old school. I will try other things first…..and then go, oh yeah, I can google it.
So, I got out my trusty “hand-powered” can opener and cut around the top part of the can to finally discover the bauble surprise inside.
Isn’t it cute?!?!
Akin to a ping pong ball in lightness and looks – doesn’t bounce like one, though. It just lands hard on the floor with a loud “blunk!’
And after that bit of exploration and experimentation, I looked up what google had to say:
(written by Julia Calderone for the Business Insider, Sept. 25, 2015)
“…That little gadget is called a “widget,” and you should be thankful for it. It’s making your beer taste like it was just poured fresh from the tap.
A widget is a hollow, spherical piece of plastic with a tiny hole in it — it looks like a little ping pong ball.
During the canning process, brewers add pressurized nitrogen to the brew, which trickles into the hole along with a little bit of beer. The entire can is then pressurized.
When you open the can, the pressure inside the can drops to equalize with the pressure in the room. Since the pressure inside the widget is still much higher than the pressure in the beer around it, the nitrogenated beer from inside the widget squirts into the beer — providing a burst of tiny bubbles of nitrogen gas that rise to the top of beer, giving it a thick, creamy head you’d get straight from the tap.
Guinness brewers first patented the idea of the widget in 1969….”