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2000 Personal Accounts
The Darwin Awards salutes the spirit portrayed in the following personal accounts, submitted by loyal (and sometimes reluctant) readers. Next


Brewery Mishap  
2000 Personal Account

(May 2000, Australia) My great-uncle worked at a brewery in Melbourne around the turn of the century. Whilst inspecting one of the vats, he lost his footing and fell headlong into the vat. This is more dangerous than it sounds. Beer contains ethanol, which has a lower density than water. He was unable to swim to the surface, drowned before rescuers could assist him. The worst thing about it, they say, is that the entire batch of beer had to be thrown out with him. Quite true. © 1994 - 2020

Submitted by: Vile

Some readers say it isn't true:

"You could not drown in beer... Beer always has a specific gravity greater than 1.0 (water) and even strong ales with 10% or better alcohol are not even close to 1.0.."

Water has a higher specific gravity than alcohol. One milliliter of alcohol has less mass than one milliliter of water. The science is that water molecules attract each other very strongly because they are so polar, so it is more dense than other ingestible liquids.

"This Personal account may be true but I have heard this story repeated for many years in the form of a joke. "He bravely fought off his co-workers who were trying to rescue him, and he climbed out three times to use the toilet.

"Incidentally, there is only 4% ethanol in beer, the rest is water (96%) so I doubt that someone falling in would be unable to swim. Having toured a brewery and looking into (and smelling) the vats, I also doubt that they would throw out a batch just because someone went for a swim in it - probably sell it at a premium for the extra body..."

Another reader:
"I do know that gases are propagated within the solution during the brewing process. This could create an event similar to a situation that has caused ships to sink. As I recall, pockets of methane gas rise from the seabed creating an area of water around the vessel that is sufficiently less dense to make it sink. If there was enough gas in the beer, it may have been that "dense" person hence sunk...?"

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