Lagers all taste the same, research finds13th August, 2014 by Neal Baker
Research into beer drinkers’ taste preferences for some of the world’s biggest selling lagers has resulted in an interesting conclusion — people can’t tell the difference between them.
Using European big-brand lagers, researchers gave volunteers blind samples of Budvar (also known as Czechvar), Heineken and Stella Artois, but found they could not taste the difference.
“Our results suggest that brand loyalty in this market is likely to be driven largely by marketing and packaging, and not by the underlying sensory properties of the competing products.”
“They cannot distinguish between three major competing beer brands,” the report concludes.
The study centred around a simple blind test using 138 volunteers, aged 21 to 70. Each was given three samples of beer, with two of the samples being the same product and one being a different brand.
Each volunteer was invited to taste the three and select the odd one out, but this proved much more difficult than the researchers predicted.
The research was carried out by Johan Almenberg and Anna Dreber, of the Stockholm School of Economics, and the report’s author was Robin Goldstein.
In their report Hide The Label, Hide The Difference, the researchers found that the beer drinkers couldn’t distinguish between the big beer brands and came to the conclusion that brand loyalty and consumer preference was more linked to marketing – like advertisements, labelling and promotion – than flavour.
“I think basically what we’re looking at is a commodity industry – the products are interchangeable,” said Goldstein said in an interview.
“It also means that the beer industry has perfected pale lager beer, which is my favourite style of beer,” he added.
“They have a good product, a good manufacturing method and it can be sold at a good price,” Goldstein explained.
“So if you’re in a bar and they don’t have the lager you usually drink, have a different one. They will pretty taste much the same.”