No matter how often we like to try out new beers, wine, and liquors, at the end of the day, we will always have our favorites. Maybe your favorite beer is the first one you ever had, the one your roommate introduced you to your senior year of college, or even just the one you randomly tried one night when you grabbed a six-pack on the way home from work. If you had to do a blind taste test, you’d probably be able to pick out your favorite beer immediately, right?
Wrong. (Well, maybe.)
TIME reports that The American Associate of Wine Economists released details from a recent study that concluded most drinkers can’t tell different beer brands apart when labels are removed from the beer bottles. The researchers did blind taste tests using three European lagers – Czechvar (Czech Republic), Heineken (Netherlands), and Stella Artois (Belgium). People participating in the study would drink three samples of beer, with two of them being the same beer; researchers asked them to identify the beer in the group that was different. The drinkers were not able to complete the task with any reliable degree of accuracy.
In addition to their own research, the folks behind the study also cited a 1964 study in which a few hundred volunteer beer testers were given five different kind of popular lager brands, each with noticeable taste differences. It was found that when labels were on the bottles, the people rated their preferred beer brand higher. However, without the labels, there was almost no preference for certain beers over others.
Okay, this research is all very interesting, but we’re not totally sold yet. If anything, the 1964 study seems a little more legit due to the amount of participants and measuring their preferences before and after the labels were taken off the beer bottles. The more recent study does not seem to have enough participants, types of different beer, and other variables that would help prove their point a little better. We don’t doubt that labels and marketing techniques play a role in what people drink, but we think the researchers could try a little harder to prove it. Hey, what can we say? We’re a tough crowd.