Music Will Maybe Make Your Sad Beer Taste Less Sad

A new study found that sound and imagery can tangibly influence your perception of taste.

by Kastalia Medrano
Getty Images

Let’s start with a fact of life: beer makes human company more palatable.

And now, science has gifted us with a second fact of life: Music makes beer taste good. A delightful new Frontiers in Psychology paper had 231 fortunate humans drink a custom-designed beer under different conditions in the name of science, finding that extrasensory elements like music and label design actually heightened perception of taste.

One control group drank the beer the boring way, without a label and without any particular music. A second drank the beer after seeing its presumably nice-looking label. And the third drank the beer while being able to see the label and listen to a song by the band that helped create the beer (which was meant to complement the band’s aesthetic and style). Obviously, the third group reported greater enjoyment than the first.

The right music can trick you into liking your beer more.

Felipe Reinoso Calvaho

The situation is definitely a bit unique, since the beer and the music were literally hand-crafted to play off each other, but it’s easy to see how the general sentiment could apply to your standard beer-drinking situation. The emphasis here is on the multi-sensory aspect of the experience: Is your beer going to taste better in a sad, quiet, empty bar, or in a happening place with lots of sights and sounds you enjoy?

“We want to keep assessing how sounds can modulate perceived flavor attributes of food and beverages, such as bitterness, sweetness, sourness, and creaminess,” said team leader Dr. Felipe Reinoso Carvalho, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven. “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.”

Related Tags