No, beer is not a pure substance.
Beer is composed of multiple materials, too many to be considered a pure substance.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain what a pure substance is, and why it is that beer fails to make the cut.
Why Is Beer A Pure Substance? (Or Not?)
What Is A Pure Substance?
Understanding what a pure substance is, is the first step to understanding why beer is not one.
A pure substance scientifically is a substance that is made up of only one kind of building block.
In general, that building block could be an element, or it could be a compound.
What it cannot be is more than one element, or more than one compound.
If a substances contains more than one building block that is not bonded to the other(s), it cannot be considered a pure substance.
What Is Beer?
Chemically, beer is quite interesting.
Most people understand that ingredients that are used to make beer (hops, barley, malt, sugars).
They also understand that beer contains alcohol.
But what else?
A frosty glass of beer could contain many different substances, but the more plentiful of the substances is actually water (which people forget).
Water is more than 90% of the material. (source)
After water, you might find some of the following components in the brew: enzymes, maltodextrins, ethanol, alpha and beta acids, esters, phenols, diacetyl, and sulfur.
And don’t forget the carbon dioxide, some of which is natural, and some of which is added to make the beer more enjoyable to drink.
Why Is Beer Not A Pure Substance?
As discussed above, a substance can only have one kind of building block to be a pure substance.
Beer has water, ethanol, and then any number of additional substances which provide beer with its own particular smell, appearance, and flavor.
Since there is more than one element or compound, beer is not a pure substance.
Is Beer A Mixture Or A Compound?
Beer is a mixture.
Why Is Beer A Mixture?
Beer is a good example of a mixture.
A mixture is a material made up of more than one kind of substance, where the substances are not bonded to each other.
The substances can be separated out from the original material, and often retain their individual physical qualities and characteristics.
In the case of beer, we have a water with multiple substances floating around in it.
These substances are not bonded to the water, and they are not bonded to each other.
As a result, beer is a mixture.
Is Beer A Heterogeneous Mixture Or A Homogeneous Mixture?
It depends on the kind of beer.
A heterogeneous mixture is one that is not chemically or physically consistent throughout the material.
A homogeneous mixture is one that is chemically and physically consistent throughout the material.
Some beers are a lot more like water. They are one color, that color is consistent, and there is no other materials suspended or floating around in the liquid.
If you were to sample one area of the beer, it would be the same as other areas.
We’d call it homogeneous.
Some beers are not so consistent. They are not filtered, and contain remnants of the original ingredients.
If you let the beer sit, the bottom of the beer liquid will have more of these particulates (murky sediment) at the bottom of the vessel.
We’d call this one heterogeneous.
For the question of heterogeneous vs homogeneous, we really have to get down to a specific beer to determine whether it qualifies as one or the other.
Is Beer A Compound?
No, beer is not a compound.
A compound is formed when an element, molecule, or compound bonds to another element, molecule, or compound.
In the case of beer, you have water, and then you have a whole bunch of other stuff.
The substances in with the water might be compounds themselves (like ethanol), but since all of the materials are not bonded to each other, beer is not a compound.
Is Beer An Element?
No, beer is not an element.
An element is a substance that cannot be separated or broken down into simpler parts.
In the case of beer, the substances can be separated into water and then the other various chemicals.
It is no where near an element.