Beer Tastes Better With Music

The right beer paired with the perfect song can make for beautiful harmony.

Science has shown what anyone who has ever been to a concert or music festival has known all along: Music makes beer taste better, finds a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The experiment was the product of a multidisciplinary fusion that involved the Brussels Beer Project, the U.K.-based band The Editors and a team of researchers led by Felipe Reinoso Cavalho of Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven.

For the beer, brewers produced a porter-style ale that had notes of Earl Grey, citrus, chocolate and malt, inspired by the band's latest album, "In Dreams."

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Noting the unique convergence of the different senses in crafting the beer, Cavalho and his team devised an experiment in which 231 volunteers were brought in for a beer tasting.

Before the drinkers had a chance to sample the new brew, they were divived into three groups. The first group was the control, served in silence only the beer in a bottle without a label. The second group received the beer in a bottle with a label attached, but again no music. The third group were brought beer in a bottle with a label and a fragment of the song "Oceans of Light" playing in the background.

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Each participant rated the beer before and after they drank. The initial rating estimated how much they anticipated enjoying the beer, and the second showed how much they actually liked drinking it.

Of all the groups, those who saw the label and heard the song rated the experience more highly than the other two groups. In particular, those familiar with the band and heard the music while drinking enjoyed the beer the most, the authors write.

"[T]hese results provide original evidence for the idea that customized visual and auditory information can add value to the process of food and beverage product development, not to mention the subsequent enjoyment of those who eat and/or drink," the authors explain.

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The findings reinforce previous research showing how the others senses can influence our perceptions of taste. A study published seven years ago in the Journal of Consumer Research found that ads for food and drink products work best if they incorporate other senses.

"Because taste is generated from multiple senses (smell, texture, sight, and sound), ads mentioning these senses will have a significant impact on taste over ads mentioning taste alone," wrote the authors of the 2009 research.

As for next steps, the team behind the latest research want to explore how different sounds affect taste. "We want to keep assessing how sounds can modulate perceived flavor attributes of food and beverages, such as bitterness, sweetness, sourness and creaminess," Cavalho said in a statement.

"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," he added.

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