Has Music Really Changed the Taste of a Beer? — Chromatography Explores
Jan 13 2017
As you get older, the chances are that your tastes will change in several ways. It could be your taste in music or it could be your taste in food and drinks. But what about when the two overlap? An American brewery are claiming to have infused one of their craft beers with music — rap music in the form of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Doing things differently
Derek Garman is the chief brewer at North Carolina’s Fortnight Brewing company. Like a lot of craft beer breweries, they wanted to do something a little bit different. So along with his team, he attempted to infuse the beer with music. How? By blasting it for almost two weeks while the beer was being brewed.
Two large speakers – about 30 inches in size – were placed right by the fermentation tank, before Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang was looped for a full working day. Eight hours a day for 12 days straight – and suddenly the assisting brewers found themselves suffering a bit. In a report on Vice’s Munchies channel, Garman stated: “I’d say about day two or three—about halfway through the day—is when I started to develop a headache just from hearing the same music over and over again.”
A few headaches, numerous signs of fatigue and a whole load of earplugs later, the beer — “Bring da Ruckus” — was ready for tasting. But how did it work?
Playing music at such a high volume and so close to the fermenting beer allows a unique yet constant pattern of vibrations from the sound waves to reach the beer. These vibrations stress the yeast and consequently affect the fermentation process. Thus, the beer takes on different aromatics and a different flavour profile.
And how can we tell? Through testing of course. As well as being described as a more bitter, less sweet beer by tasters, “Bring da Ruckus” was tested using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry — the optimisation of which is discussed in the article, ‘Adding more Power to your GC-MS Analysis through Deconvolution’.
The tests compared Bring da Ruckus to a beer with the same recipe, minus the musical influence, “Bring da Saucer”. And the results showed exactly what Fortnight expected — a different chemical make-up was found in the two beers. Given the identical ingredients and recipe for the two brews, it seems the differences can only be down to the presence of the music.
And while there isn’t any direct evidence on how exactly the vibrations stress the yeast and alter fermentation, the more bitter taste of Bring da Ruckus must also be a consequence of their interference.
Seems like those with a sweet tooth might want to steer clear of rap music.
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