In Honor of NASA’s Launch of the Parker Solar Probe, Crystal Lake Brewing Releases Parker Solar Pale Ale

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“Parker Solar Pale Ale” is the latest pilot-batch beer introduced in the Crystal Lake Brewing tap room. Brewed at the suggestion, and with the help, of CLB regulars Eric Parker and Greg Glover, the beer is crisp, refreshing and delicious (made, of course, using ‘Galaxy’ hops), but what is particularly notable about this batch is its namesake, Dr. Eugene Parker and NASA’s latest mission, the Parker Solar Probe.

In 1958, University of Chicago physicist Eugene Parker published his pioneering paper theorizing the existence of the solar wind. His lifetime of work is now being recognized by NASA with the launch of a probe that will pass far closer to the sun than any previous man-made object and seek to answer questions about the nature of our solar system. It is the first time that a NASA launch vehicle has ever been named after a living person.

“I always had the feeling that Dad was good at his job, but as a kid, none of my friends had dads whose job title was ‘Scientist’, so I really had no frame of reference,” remembers Eric Parker. “It wasn’t until later that I realized how ground-breaking his work actually was.”

The car-sized probe is set to launch early one morning this August, depending on weather and other factors. It’s four suites of instruments are protected by a Thermal Protection System made up of four and a half inches of carbon foam wrapped within a carbon-carbon shell and a Solar Cooling Array that is able to produce power despite the extreme heat and radiation the vehicle will be exposed to.

Earlier this year, Eric Parker, Eugene’s son, and friend Greg Glover excitedly described the project to CLB Co-Founder John O’Fallon, who found the mission, as well as the personal local connection, fascinating. Greg initiated the project and, along with Brewmaster Ryan Clooney, put together a plan to brew a beer in honor of the occasion and the man for which it is named.

Beer Styles

So on the morning of July 16th, Eric, Greg, John, Ryan, along with Eugene Parker and his wife of 63 years, Niesje together brewed the Parker Solar Pale Ale.

“At 91, Dr. Parker is fascinating”, said O’Fallon. “Hearing the man talk about his work and the solar probe mission was nothing short of inspirational. But he was equally interested in discussing the brewing process and the science of producing beer. It was an honor to have him here and to be able to spend time with him.”

Eric Parker continued on about his early memories of his father. “When Dad got home from the University of Chicago, he was done with work and the rest of his time was dedicated to Mom, my sister and me. His work expanded human understanding of the universe, but when he got home, to me he was just Dad.”

On August 5, in the CLB tap room, Eric, Greg, John, Ryan and a host of friends will raise a pint of the beer that commemorates a ground-breaking scientific mission and the genius who inspired it. It’s a small tribute, perhaps, to a lifetime dedicated to discovery, but a more profound act of gratitude of a son to a father, celebrated by those whose lives the man touched.

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