It’s the delicate balance of hops, yeast and malts that make a great tasting craft beer, but a new study has found that there could be another surprising ingredient for the perfect flavour – music.
Published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven teamed up with the Brussels Beer Project and UK band Editors to create an experiment to see whether a different set of multisensory experiences affect the way we perceive taste.
Music to my beers
First up, the Brussels Beer Project created a beer that matched the visual identity of the band, which given their dark and broody nature was obviously a porter, infused with Earl Grey for a distinctively British flavour.
Then 231 beer-loving volunteers were separated into three different groups; a group with a plain bottle and no music, a second with a labelled bottle with no music, and finally a group with a labelled bottle listening to the Editors’ song Oceans of Light, the song the beer was modelled on (which you can listen to below).
Before they started glugging on the tasty brew they were asked to rate how delicious they thought the beer was going be, and then rating it once they finally got their lips around it. What the team discovered is that those who listened to the track took greater enjoyment from drinking the beer than those with the bottle and label alone.
“We have shown that people that previously knew the song that was used in the experiment, not only liked the multisensory experience of drinking beer more while listening to it, but they also liked the beer itself more,” says Dr Felipe Reinoso Carvalho, who led the study. “It seems that the added pleasure that the song brought into the experience was transferred into the beer's flavour.”
This study is not just music to the ears of any landlord thinking of installing a new jukebox - the study could have wider reaching effects beyond just pub goers and home brewers across the world.
"We want to keep assessing how sounds can modulate perceived flavour attributes of food and beverages,” says Reinoso Carvalho. "We also want to understand how sounds can influence our decision making process, in order to see if different sounds could, for example, lead people towards healthier food choices.
"We will also be able to work with other food and beverage types and progressively include other senses in this pairing process, such as vision, smells, touch."
So if you’re a home brewer looking for an edge to your latest concoction, penning a tune for your tipple could be the key ingredient – cheers!