Jul 29, 2016 I Brett Tingley

Psychologists Discover Music Makes Beer Taste Better

The researchers in a recently published psychological study asked test subjects to you know - come hang out, have a few brews, maybe listen to some tunes. No, this wasn’t a dorm room simulator; it was an experiment designed to test how the interaction of music and beer might change the perception of taste or level of enjoyment participants got from drinking.

The lab where the experiment was conducted.

Yes, you read that correctly. While bar and club owners have known this fact for a long time, the psychology journal Frontiers has published new research that proves music does in fact make beer taste better. 231 participants were given either an unlabeled or labeled beer and were asked to either drink it, or not, while either listening to music or sitting in silence. The researchers asked the participants to rate their hedonic reaction - the amount of pleasure they experienced during the session.

music and beer2
Music and beer - an ancient combination.

Participants enjoyed the experience most when - unsurprisingly - they saw the label, drank the beer, and knew the song being played (tax dollars hard at work, folks). According to the study, the data shows that listening to certain music can alter the ways individuals perceive beer, and possibly other beverages or foods:

These results support the idea that customized sound-tasting experiences can complement the process of developing novel beverage (and presumably also food) events. We suggest that involving musicians and researchers alongside brewers in the process of beer development, offers an interesting model for future development.

The beer used in this study was a dark English ale with hints of Earl Grey tea, brewed to pair well with The Editors latest album, 'In Dreams'. No, seriously.

Participants in the control group - no music, no label - had the worst time at these psychologists’ lame idea of a party. The study suggests that this research might lead brewers or restauranteurs to create quasi-synesthetic beverage and music pairings that explore mixing different sensory experiences, what researchers call “Sensploration” and “Gastrophysics:”

There is growing evidence to support the claim that multisensory information can be used to improve the design of food/beverage products, as well as the design of dining experiences [...] by systematically manipulating the different sensory cues that are involved in the process of eating and drinking, it is possible to positively impact the overall eating and drinking experience.

The researchers even speculated that further studies might be able to prove how certain types of music might encourage other behaviors, such as eating or drinking faster or choosing healthier foods. While this study sounds like someone’s bad idea of a promotional stunt, the authors declared that the research was “conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.” Still, next time those psych nerds invite me to one of their lame parties, I'm staying home to binge watch LOST.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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