We are constantly surrounded by sensory stimuli, like sound, sensation, scent, and colour—all of which influence our taste. We wouldn’t think music would have such an impact on taste, but science proves otherwise.
Since drinking and listening to music are both sensory experiences, it makes sense that they affect each another. In fact, the flavour perception of beer can be greatly enhanced by listening to the right jams.
As per a study published in Frontiers in Psychology done with The Brussels Beer Project and English band The Editors where the focus was on the influence of background music on the beer-tasting experience, it was found that rock music pairs best with malt beers that have a roasted grain flavour, slight sweetness, and notes of spice and/or chocolate.
It was also shown that people who previously knew the song ‘Oceans of Light’ that was used in the experiment, not only liked the multi-sensory experience of drinking beer more while listening to it, but they also liked the beer itself more. According to the study’s lead author Felipe Reinoso Cavalho, “It seems that the added pleasure that the song brought into the experience was transferred into the beer’s flavour.”
Involving 231 participants, results of this study provides original evidence for the idea that creating a customised sound – tasting experience can add value to the enjoyment of those who eat and/or drink.
Pilsners, Amber ales, and sweet, fruity types of beer are best enjoyed while listening to songs that have a pure sound. Music with piano and flute are the ideal choices. These instruments are higher in pitch, more pure sounding, and typically featured in lighter, more uplifting songs.
Belgian beers tend to be acidic and tart. They’re best paired with fast music that has strong rhythms, and dissonance (when two opposing notes are played together) like Nirvana’s “Hairspray Queen”.
Beers with high alcohol content and strong, punchy flavour are best complemented with songs that are darker, and feature a synthesizer – A-ha’s “Take On Me” is one such song.
Pale Ales, IPAs, and other bitter beers are best served up with quirky tropical tunes that have lots of harmonics, and use metal instrument like trumpets and trombones. Next time you are sipping some hoppy Imperial IPA be sure to pair it with Exodus by The Skatalites.
Marketing Tip: Why not spotlight specific beers at your bar/pub, pairing them with a customised music background? This would encourage the diners to experiment/drink more of a certain beer, giving you the chance to enhance their overall drinking experience.