Can consumers taste the difference between a beer that was refrigerated, returned to room temperature, and then re-refrigerated VS. a beer that was only refrigerated before being served?
Note: We’ll abbreviate re-refrigerated (RR) for the first storage condition and (R) for the second storage condition for simplicity.
Consumers cannot taste the difference.
With your help, we gathered some data to test this hypothesis. Here’s how we did it…we refrigerated two samples of four different beers: Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, Goose Island Harvest Ale, Triton Railsplitter IPA and Upland Bad Elmer Porter. Then, we removed a sample of each beer and let them warm to room temperature. Finally, we re-refrigerated the beers we removed (RR) and poured them, alongside a sample of each beer that was stored cold only (R), at the School of Beer last Thursday at Kahn's North Willow.
Then, we asked customers to taste both beers and to pick the RR beer. What do you think happened?
Our sample provided us with no reason to reject our initial hypothesis. Put simply, consumers cannot taste the difference.
Some interesting things…
Overall, consumers correctly identified the RR beer 46% of the time. Of course, that means that consumers incorrectly picked the R beer as the RR beer 54% of the time. Provocative.
The Triton Railsplitter IPA was the only beer for which consumers correctly identified the RR beer more than half the time (62.5% of the time). For the remaining beers, consumers correctly identified the RR beer less than half the time (Bad Elmer, 47.5%; Bells, 45%; Goose Island, 36%!).
The Goose Island Harvest Ale was a bit of an enigma. It was the only beer that made us almost have to reject our initial hypothesis. Of the 25 people who sampled the Goose Island Harvest Ale, 16 of them picked the R beer as the RR beer. That means that 64% of people picked the beer they ‘thought’ would taste differently based on its storage. In fact, had just one person picked differently, we would have had to reject our initial hypothesis. While consumers clearly tasted a difference, they couldn’t correctly associate the difference in taste with a particular storage condition.
The Bottom Line
Based on our sample, it appears that consumers cannot taste the difference between R beer and RR beer. It is what it is, and now we have a little bit of data to support it. If you’re interested, please feel free to look at how we tested our hypothesis statistically.
It is interesting that more consumers ‘got it right’ with the IPA. While the results were not significant enough for us to reject our initial hypothesis, it is certainly interesting. Perhaps it’s good to keep in mind that hoppy beers like IPAs may taste a little differently if they are subjected to RR conditions.
Some important notes on IPAs and other hoppy beer:
- Refrigerated IPAS have a longer shelf life than IPAs stored at room temperature
- Kahn’s Beer Team has your back! We keep a watchful eye on all of the bottled on and best by dates for our IPAs to make sure you always have the freshest beer available
Ideas for booze myths you’d like us to test at one of our events? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org