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Archive for the ‘Wacky Beer Experiments’ Category

It’s almost hard to put this party into words. I know this blog usually focuses on the good in the beer world, the delicious successes that the art of brewing produces. But sometimes, you just have to embrace crap because crap has its place, and crap can be fun, affordable, and a great sociological experiment.

Enter: the First Annual Shitty Light Beer Blind Taste-Testing Party.

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My downstairs neighbor, partner-in-beer-crime, and late-night-Mexican-chip-dip-co-chef Laura and I decided it would be a great idea to buy a whole bunch of macro-brewed light beers (read: any light beers that might be readily available in a gas station), cram a bunch of people into the apartment she and her husband Jason share (the one right below ours), and have a blind taste-testing party. We made up scorecards for each of the five beers we chose (Coors Light, Natural Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee’s Best Light, and Sam Adams Light- somewhat of a ringer), and had each person rate the beer on it’s flavor as well as it’s uniqueness and boldness, and answer questions such as:

  • Would you rather drink this beer as a compliment to a meal, or upside down in a keg stand?
  • Do you think this beer came from a can or a bottle?
  • Do you think this beer is domestic or imported? (we forgot to include any imported ones…d’oh!)
  • How much do you think a six-pack of this beer would cost?
  • What brand of beer is this?

We also had them give bonus round rankings of:

  • Best Beer
  • Worst Beer

And choose which most closely matched their attitude towards light beers:

  • They are a complex and varied bunch of beverages that I enjoy greatly for their gastronomic delights
  • I consider myself a beer snob; light beers all taste the same to me (like piss!)
  • I’m not picky about my beer; all beers taste the same to me, including the light ones!

We not only wanted to see if people could accurately tell which beer was what, but we wanted to see if maybe their preconceived notions or attitudes towards light beer would influence their tasting (i.e., if they went in with the attitude that they’d all taste alike or taste flavorless, would they find that there was actually a range of flavors, or a clear best and worst? Would their expectations of certain brands influence their rankings or influence which they thought was best or worst, from a bottle or can, cheapest or most expensive, domestic or imported?) We also offered a door prize for most accurately guessing the right beer.

I’ll get to the results in a minute. But first, we have to talk about popcorn.

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That is part of the spread of popcorn (missing the salt & vinegar popcorn which had yet to be made) that Laura and I spent 3 hours and 5 sticks of butter making. This is a totally normal, hip, and cool Friday night activity. You’d agree with me if you were there to taste it. Ho.ly.shit. From front to back we have honey caramel, cocoa, parmesan & herb, and tandoori popcorn.

You heard me. Tandoori popcorn.

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Here is Laura holding the tandoori marinade about to go into the stove-popped corn.

And here is Laura & Jason’s dog Nigel trying to swipe some popcorn for himself.

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I ended up with lots of pictures of Nigel trying to interfere with the party food that night. Oh Nigel.

Anyhow, like I said, it’s hard to actually describe the party in words. So I’ll just show you in, pictures, what happened.

cups

Everyone drank out of clear plastic cups labeled 1-5

The offerings- which were poured into numbered red plastic cups to conceal their identity, which Laura and I then poured for everyone

Laura pouring the first round...

Everyone hard at work sampling...from left to right: Laura, Shannon, Tom, Joy, Morgan, Sarah

Jason really analyzing those subtle tastes and aromas

More scoring- Tom, Joy, Morgan, and Sarah

Nigel insisted on a close-up

The taste-test crew: Dusty, Shannon, Tom, Joy, Morgan, and Sarah. Jason & Laura and Dan & I are off-camera somewhere.

The big reveal! "And beer # 1 waaaaas....Natural Light!"

Everyone reacting to the cold, bubbly truth.

Our menfolk: Jason and Dan going, "No waaaay! This isn't very scientific!"

The winner of the door prize ended up being the lovely Joy! For guessing 3 out of 5 beers correctly, she got a Guinness glass that we donated as part of our efforts to clear out some of our ridiculous amount of bar ware that we have no room for in our cabinets.

Honestly, we didn’t do any real statistical analysis on the correlations of people’s attitudes with their preferences. It was a ton of fun, and we decided to leave it at that, and leave Excel spreadsheets out of it. We did come to one interesting conclusion though: striking out Sam Adams (as that was clearly a ringer, and clearly one everyone would rank highest, as it’s a bit of a different caliber than the rest), the overwhelming majority (all but one person, in fact) rated Milwaukee’s Best Light the best, and not a single person guessed that it was Milwaukee’s Best. What does this tell us? That perhaps we’re all a little unfairly biased against the Midwest’s pride and joy? That we should perhaps give it more consideration when deciding what cheap case of light beer to buy for our next party?

Perhaps.

Or perhaps we should just do like this guy, and when we find ourselves beer-less, swipe someone else’s brew to the floor, then lick it up under the pretense “Well, it’s on the floor and you’re not gonna drink it now! SOMEONE has to!”

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Thanks for that one, Nigel. And thanks to Laura for this awesome idea, Jason for conceding their apartment to Laura and I for our wacky experiment, and everyone who came that night and made it an awesome time!

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