Why do bubbles in Guinness sink?

E. S. Benilov, C. P. Cummins, W. T. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Stout beers show the counter-intuitive phenomena of sinking bubbles, while the beer is settling. Previous research suggests that this phenomenon is due to the small size of the bubbles in these beers and the presence of a circulatory current, directed downwards near the side of the wall and upwards in the interior of the glass. The mechanism by which such a circulation is established and the conditions under which it will occur has not been clarified. In this paper, we use simulations and experiments to demonstrate that the flow in a glass of stout beer depends on the shape of the glass. If it narrows downwards (as the traditional stout glass, the pint, does), the flow is directed downwards near the wall and upwards in the interior and sinking bubbles will be observed. If the container widens downwards, the flow is opposite to that described above and only rising bubbles will be seen. © 2013 American Association of Physics Teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-91
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • bubbles
  • physics education
  • beer
  • flow simulation
  • champagne
  • sedimentation


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