D'oh! Stupid tastebuds…

tongue.jpg Yesterday, the BBC reported that wine drinkers tested by scientists thought a wine tasted better when they were told it cost $45 rather than its actual cost of $5.

I thought this was really interesting.

I really don’t think price has ever affected my judgement — it certainly didn’t in the case of pricey Belgian ‘champagne beer’ DEUS.

But I am happy to admit that beers sometimes seem to taste better or worse to me depending on context, presentation and my own expectations.

I suspect that I might be sucker enough to favourably review, say, UK-brewed Fosters, if it was presented to me in a big German stein and I was told it was traditionally brewed in Augsburg.

I’m a marketing man’s dream.

Bailey

Blog round-up

A couple of things from other blogs that have caught our eye recently.

Wilson at Brewvana has organised a “tasting session to engage women in brewvana”, with six beers tested on women from six decades. It’s a thoroughly good read, with Wilson being slightly surprised by the favourite beer. He then challenges us to organise similar tastings.

I’m still sceptical about there being a difference between male and female tastebuds – I think a lot of the conclusions from tasting would apply to a group of men who didn’t like beer either. Still, quite up for organising some tastings at some point…

Image, and therefore, marketing does have a lot to do with it, a factor Wilson and his tasters discuss, and is discussed at more length in an article by Lew Bryson in Conde Naste.

I think in the UK, real ale is disliked by women for the same reason it’s disliked by men – it’s often too warm, too flat and off. And the sterotypical image of the real ale drinker is the old bearded sexist (rather than the young clean-shaven sexist for mainstream lager…). More on real ale marketing to come in a future post.

On the subject of beer warmth, this seems to be exercising British blogs, especially when it comes to real ale. Stonch plumps for 11 degrees* as does Tandleman. This is slightly cooler than CAMRA recommendations (12-14), and certainly cooler than it’s served in a lot of pubs, especially in the summer. This topic seems to attract a lot of interest, judging by the number of comments. Who said that real ale lovers were anal beer geeks?

I suppose the one thing conclusion that can be drawn is that temperature is a matter of personal taste rather than scientific truth. I’m generally pretty happy between about 8 deg and 12 deg for most ales. Too cold can be a problem, but I’d rather too cold than too warm (it can always warm up!) Except that last night I was drinking Orval in a pub, which was absolutely revolting straight out of the fridge but rather nice when it had warmed up a bit (they recommend 12-14 on the bottle, and who am I to argue with the monks?)

Finally, Tandleman is also plugging the Winter Ales festival in Manchester, ticking off other blogs for not mentioning it. Sorry for our typical southern bias, hope this makes up for it!

Talking of regions – I’ve been offered a job that may mean spending a lot of time in Birmingham. Can anyone advise me on the beer and pub situation there before I accept the offer?

Boak

*That’s in Celsius.  About 52F

Happy bingeing

Apparently today is the day most chosen for Christmas parties, and therefore the day when ambulance crews are most poised to pick up the pieces. I seem to remember that last year there was a lot of hysteria in the media about this, but there aren’t so many silly stories this year, perhaps because society didn’t in fact break down and the streets did not run with blood as predicted.

The Evening Standard and other related papers are having a go, though, with the story that Londoners are estimated to spend £120m on booze in two days (today and yesterday). However, that’s only £20 per Londoner (assuming 6m adult Londoners*), spread across two days. £10.00 doesn’t buy you many drinks in Central London these days, particularly in a wanky City bar (bottle of Becks – £4.20!!!!!!!!!**)

Given the hysteria about binge-drinking at the moment, £120m seems surprisingly low.

Boak

*Figure derived from the Office of National Statistics estimates in 2006. The figure of 6m includes the over 16s (because apparently they’re all drinking a bottle of wine a week) and excludes short-term migrants.

**That’s about a million dollars for our readers across the pond.