Music is omnipresent. It accompanies us on morning commutes, on windows-down drives through the countryside, and through air travel over oceans. More than just a tangible stimulus, music affects our moods — and our beer.
It turns out that craft beer is not only music to the palate, but also possibly to the ears. According to a study recently published in the Frontiers of Psychology, music could be the next frontier elevating the sensory experience of full-flavored beer. It was discussed in the study “Music influences Hedonic and Taste Ratings in Beer,” which was published in May of 2016. It was conducted by Felipe Reinoso Cavalho, a Belgian PhD candidate at the Catholic University of Leuven. Cavalho specializes in the influence of sound on the tasting experience, which is serious business in Belgium. He consults with top quality Belgian chocolate and beer producers to create tasting soundscapes. “We chose songs that can be used in order to have an enhancing effect on perceived flavor attributes, such as sweetness, bitterness, sourness, and alcoholic strength,”.
For the latest study, Cavalho and his team asked 231 beer drinkers to rate the influence of a bee. It was specifically formulated to reflect the soundscape of a song by the UK band Editors (they’re an indie rock band). The study beer was paired with the song “Ocean of Night” from the Editors new album “In Dream.”
“The head brewer from The Brussels Beer Project, who created the beer formula that we used, considered the sonic and visual identity of a rock band. It was a source of inspiration while developing this beer’s formula,” explained Cavalho.
While preforming the experiment, participants sampled the beer in one of three scenarios:
The researchers found the multi-sensory tasting group. Those who sipped the labeled bottle while listening to the music — reported the highest level of enjoyment.
“What we did, as scientists, is to use scientific methods in order to quantify if this process was effectively adding hedonic value (pleasure) into this beer’s experience,” Cavalho said.
Like old friends who met young, beer and music are inextricably linked. At the dawn of civilisation, Sumerians honoured their goddess of brewing with a hymn that doubled as a recipe. Thousands of years later, Trappist monks began batching ales to the sound of their own chanting. The earliest drinking songs were, in fact, beer-drinking songs. Today England, Ireland, Japan, and a slew of other nations boast tunes to be sung with a pint. Though embraced worldwide, beer and music are, of course, subject to fiercely held individual tastes. The same could be said of the sweet spot where the two intersect. Beethoven, for one, was fond of low-alcohol “small beer.” Pioneering jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet liked lager. Buddy Guy favors witbier and even offers an eponymous version at his Chicago blues club. During their scruffy ’80s prime, The Replacements kept Grainbelt in business by honoring the proud rock ‘n’ roll tradition of drinking until you forget your songs. And let’s not forget gangster rap’s complicated 1990s dalliance with malt liquor.
“Sound can have a significant effect on flavor perception, and when I work with sound I try to work with music because it’s a big part of the auditory universe,” says Felipe Reinoso Carvalho. “Music is also about emotions, so I try to understand how we can use it as a source of pleasure in the tasting experience.”
Over the past few years Carvalho and his colleagues conducted research that looked for “natural trends”. Participants were asked to evaluate beers while listening to different sounds and songs. In one study, Carvalho asked people to taste different beers and use tuners to choose a specific frequency they thought best matched each flavor. “The groups clearly differentiated the sweet beers toward high-pitched frequencies, and the bitter beers toward low-pitched frequencies,” he explains. “We could conclude then that people have these natural trends to associate bitterness with lower pitches and sweetness with higher pitches.”
In another study, Carvalho played sounds made to be congruent with bitterness, sweetness, and sourness. Listeners tasted the same beer twice, without knowing it was the same beer. “We found that besides the fact that these sounds enhanced the corresponding taste attribute, the bitter soundtracks also enhanced the beer’s perceived alcohol strength,” he explains. “That was an unexpected finding.”
Alex Brandmeyer, a Berkeley, Calif.-based Ph.D. researcher who studies cognitive neuroscience, finds some validity in Carvalho’s work and other related findings. But he leans toward sensation transference, rather than interlinked sensations – as an explanation for some of these sound and taste associations. “It is not clear that these systematic relationships are neurobiological in nature,” he says. “The idea that listening to a specific type of music might enhance the taste of beer, in my mind, speaks to the emotive and cultural identity phenomena associated with general ‘mood enhancement’ effects. When individuals are deeply engaged during a particular activity sensory experiences are enhanced .”
In DR BLUES’ Brewery, the Wall of Sound comprising 30,000 Watts of acoustic energy continuously play Big Apple Blues music. The sound pressure produces a continuous, gentle vibration of the beer. Similarly to Champagne, top quality beers benefit from a shake to aid the 2nd fermentation. The immense acoustic energy awakens the yeast and adds complexity of the flavors of our beer magic. Big Apple Blues is a New York City-based collective of NYC-blues scene veterans. Band members have shared the stage with some of the all time blues & roots greats! A wise man once said: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Dr Blues Belgian Brews comes alive inside the house of #drblues , as rich melodies of Big Apple Blues surround each and every bottle. We know that one of a kind approach makes a one of a kind product. Here you can see our DR BLUES rocking it!
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