It wasn’t so long ago that I was one of those people at a wine-tasting where, upon being told there was a hint of currant and blueberry, I would take a cautious sip and reply, “I taste none of these things.” Or if there were people I wanted to impress, “Oh, yeah, totally!” (Pro tip: add, “Kinda oaky, too.” Balance of probabilities, it will be hard to prove you wrong.)
So it’s slightly disconcerting that I now find myself saying things like, “I get apricot on the nose, some farmhouse funk from the brett transitioning to a dry finish. Good mouthfeel.” There’s still the little voice in the back of my brain that asks, “Really? Because I taste none of these things.” It is the voice of my lower middle-class upbringing, the voice that recognizes the aspirational quality of any kind of tasting and wonders about things like confirmation bias. What would happen if someone handed me a Coors in a pint glass but told me it was a double-IPA? I’d like to think my reaction would be, “This shit’s terrible,” but what if I started rhapsodizing about hops? Would I have to shoot myself after the trickster revealed the deception? It keeps me up at night.
Well, there’s only one way to find out: a taste test. And not just any taste test, but the gold standard of clinical trials: a double-blind test. Whereupon not only do the tasters not know what they’re getting, but the person administering the test doesn’t know, either. We are steadfast in our quest for the truth.
In the coming weeks and months, we hope to take you through our attempts to verify our tasting bona fides. Can we tell the difference between different beer types? Can we tell the difference between IPAs from different breweries? Which Japanese mass-produced beer is the best? Can we even tell the difference? And so on. We solicit any and all ideas, so feel free to suggest in the comments below.