Making Your Beer Taste Better - Turn on the Music

Aug 08 2016 Comments 0

Background music is ubiquitous with eating and drinking now it seems - impossible to escape. But that music might be doing some good. A recent study suggests that background music can improve how we perceive certain tastes. In this case beer.

Multisensory world

Evidence from many different researchers indicates that products and experiences depend on inputs from all of our senses - not just one. The way our senses are manipulated can change how we observe or react to everyday things - including how we taste our food and drink.

There is a substantial amount of published research that has looked at how different odours affect the human experience and thoughts — with research showing that before we even recognize an odour our brain has reacted to it emotionally. The scent of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread helps to make people act kinder and helps to sell a house. Indeed, such is the power of smell that chromatography has a branch dedicated to exploring odours - gas chromatography -olfactory - this article discusses some of the principles, Sample Preparation Options for Aroma Analysis.

Whilst there is probably not too much of a leap to see how aromas make our food and drink taste better - researchers are now showing that music can make beer taste better.

If music be the food of love, play on…

Although most of the information that affects how we think about our food and drink comes from visual and odour clues - several recent studies have indicated that music can also influence how we perceive our food and drink. Some research has even shown that it is possible to compose music and sounds that alter the perceived flavour of food and drinks.

Now a team of researchers has shown how music and packaging could possibly enrich the beer drinking experience. In a paper - ‘Music Influences Hedonic and Taste Ratings in Beer’ and published in Frontiers in Psychology - the team tested the presence or absence of labelling on bottled beer and its interaction with music on how the (lucky) test subjects rated the beer.

But does it matter if you don’t like The Editors?

The beer - called Salvation - tested by the researchers was produced in a collaboration between the Brussels Beer Project and the UK band The Editors. The beer they made was based on a UK style porter ale - a dark ale - and was a result of sound/tasting sessions between the band and the brewing company.

Although the sample size was small, the team found that both the packaging and the music affected how people perceived the beer. The team report that the overall results:

“suggest that music may be effectively used to add value to multisensory tasting experiences when there is a previous connection between the participants and the music.”

The report suggests that a multisensory approach to food/drink packaging could be of benefit when designing and marketing a new food or drink.

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