Meet the Sonic Foamer!
All photos by Kevin Gibson. Anytime something gets popular, there are those who will come up with ideas to capitalize on that popularity. God bless America, etc.
For instance, in 1964, it was Beatle wigs. Who really needed one of those, when you could just sit in your bedroom and listen to the albums? Well, no one, because it was really just about the music. The demand was there, regardless, so Beatle wigs sold.
Enter the Sonic Foamer, a contraption designed to foam your craft beer sonically, thus creating head and unleashing aromas and possibly flavors you might have been missing. This is a similar gadget to one we covered a few months ago, called HopBlast, except this sucker creates battery-powered ultrasonic frequencies, which is kind of cool right out of the gate.
Here’s how the Sonic Foamer works: It’s a small, black platform topped with what is called an “activation tray.” Atop the device are two buttons, one of which controls the color of the seemingly unnecessary LED light that lets you know the Foamer is on and ready to use. In order to make that light shine, one first must use a Phillips-head screwdriver to open a bottom panel and insert six AA batteries.
Then, the Sonic Foamer must be placed on a flat surface, after which two teaspoons of water go into the activation tray. Something akin to a beer coaster on steroids, this is where your glass of beer will sit. Your best bet is to use a pint glass filled up about halfway or two-thirds of the way, because if you over-foam, you’ll potentially have a mess. Don’t even think about setting a full can or bottle on top of the Sonic Foamer, especially if it’s sealed.
Oh, and it is suggested to always use very cold beer, because the beer will tend to warm up the longer it sits on the Sonic Foamer. (I found this confusing, since chilling your beer lower than 40 degrees or so will actually mute the aroma and flavor, which sort of goes directly against what this gadget was invented for in the first place.)
When you’ve got the LED light color you’re looking for (I went with green), you may then push the activation button; this sends the ultrasonic waves upward through your beer, creating about a half inch to an inch of foamy head, depending on what you’re drinking. From there, the aroma is further released (much like the head that forms when the beer is first poured) and, theoretically, enhanced aspects of the beer come forth.
I first tried it with a fairly basic IPA, called Hipster Repellant from Louisville, Ky.-based Falls City. This light amber, medium-hopped brew has just enough aroma to let you know it’s there, so I figured the Sonic Foamer would bring it to life. So, I pushed the button, the cool-looking bubbles burst forth, and … well, it did enhance the nose. A bit. But the flavor seemed pretty much on point per usual, leaving me to wonder if a denser beer would work better. The good news was that repeated “foamings” didn’t seem to flatten the beer much, if any.
I think the most fun part of the Sonic Foamer is that it's kind of cool looking when the bubbles are created – as if someone made a lava lamp out of beer. But after you hit the button a time or two and get the “oooh” effect, well, then it’s sort of how you felt as a kid when the Sea Monkeys arrived in the mail and you realized they were just freeze-dried brine shrimp. The fun fades fairly quickly from there. Not to mention that every time you take a drink of your beer from the tray, the water drips everywhere.
I think what perplexed me the most about the Sonic Foamer was the owner’s manual, which gave instructions such as always, always testing a small amount of beer first, to always make sure there is the proper amount of water in the tray, and that, “Incorrect use of batteries could result in high heat and/or fire, causing product damage.”
I think the one that took me from curious to simply shaking my head was the warning, “Do not stare directly at the LED light. It may cause eye damage.”
So, I’m risking fire AND blindness to smell my beer better? Not to mention the time commitment it took to set it all up.
I’m not saying the Sonic Foamer isn’t a cool gadget to bust out at a party, but it’s hard to believe an experienced craft beer nerd is going to spend $29.99 on it. This is one of those things people’s moms or significant others will be buying as gifts because, hey, they know you really like beer. It’s the thought that counts. Kind of like that Beatle wig in 1964.