Research suggests music can make beer taste better

Beer can taste better when presented along with music, according to a recent study published this May in Frontiers in Psychology. The study found that music may be used to add value to multisensory tasting experiences when there is a previous connection between a person and the music.

The effect of multisensory information on the taste of food and drink products is of growing interest. Research has shown that what we see and hear can greatly affect our perception and enjoyment of flavors. For example, a different color on product packaging leads to different flavor associations.

Sound is another factor that has been found to influence how we perceive food and drink, with the potential for it to add enjoyment and taste to the eating and drinking experience. For example, different soundtracks have been shown to influence the sweetness and bitterness of chocolate.

The study, led by Felipe Carvalho of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, looked at whether the process of brewing and presenting a beer could be enriched by music and labeling. A total of 231 participants tasted beer under three different conditions. The first group was presented with an unlabeled beer, the second group with a labelled beer, and the third group with a labelled beer together with a 1 minute fragment of a song (“Oceans of Light” by the UK music band called “The Editors”). The beer and label were deliberately developed to accompany the song. Participants’ attention was also drawn towards the beer and music, as a multisensory experience.

The results revealed that participants rated the tasting experience as higher when presented with music and a labeled beer together. Importantly, those participants who already knew the band and had listened to the song reported having liked the beer more after tasting it, as compared to their pre-tasting ratings. In contrast, those participants who knew the band but were only presented with the label reported liking the beer less.

The findings show that by focusing on the music that was being played whilst drinking the beer, people’s attention was potentially drawn toward specific components of their sensory experience. This suggests that music may be used to add value to multisensory tasting experiences when there is a previous connection between a person and the music.

The research highlights the possibility of using science and technology to produce better products in the food and drink market.