16 Mar 2010

A Paradox

Mi favourite "beer proverb" is: "The only important thing is what's in the glass. The rest, at most, is interesting". I also believe that the ideal way to evaluate a beer would be using the so called "Double Blind Tasting" method, in which you don't have any preliminary information whatsoever about the beer or beers to be judged.

In reality, though, this method is pretty hard to use. There's always going to be a long list of factors that will influence our opinion over this or that beer. But even if we did employ it, can it be really useful to define if a beer is better than another or others? Shouldn't some of those above mentioned factors be considered in order to reach that conclusion?

Let's play a mind game: We are doing a comparative tasting of two beers, let's call them A and B. The only information we have about them is very general: Both are from the same country or region (we aren't told which) and they are of regular production (i.e. they aren't seasonal or from limited edition or vintage), their ABV's are roughly the same and this and other characteristics would put them into the same category or style.

After analysing the hypothetical results we see that everyone agrees that both beers are great and that they would love to be able to drink them again. However, there is a majority who liked sample B better. In this context, we could fairly say that beer B is better than A, and few could argue that.

But this is not a realistic context and in fact, if we wanted to drink either of those beers again, we would have to buy it. And here is where a series of objective factors start playing a role because they sort of create, or show, some considerable differences between this two beers.

It turns out that sample A is relatively easy to find in any largish city and its price is of around a couple of EU. Sample B, on the other hand, it's not only very difficult to come across, but on those occasions when it shows up on the local market its price is two, three or more times higher than A's.

So, which is the better beer, the one we liked a bit better but will rarely be able to drink or the one we liked a bit less, but that we can drink pretty much any time we fancy?

Na Zdraví!

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5 comments:

  1. I don't know, I think it's fair to take other factors into account in which beer you drink. If a blind taste test showed me that I like Staropramen better than Svijany (which I doubt it would, but let's say), I still wouldn't start buying or seeking out Staropramen. Wanting to support smaller competitors is a valid reason to give something preference. As is, as you mention, price. And heck, who here hasn't bought a beer just because it has a pretty label?

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  2. You are right! And actually, to me A is the better beer, but at the same time, I couldn't argue with someone who insisted that B is better...

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  3. Just read a Paradox, very good. Just watched Tomas Repka on Youtube. Had some beer named after him. Happens alot in UK. Does it happen in CZ much, and if so, are there any good beers ?.

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  4. Little note: It is not Double Blind Tasting, but simply Blind tasting. Double Blind Testing is usually use in testing new medicament and patients and even doctors do not know what is true cure and what is placebo.

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  5. Elf,

    In a normal blind tasting what you don't know is the identity of the beers, but you are usually told about their style, category, etc.

    In a double blind tasting you don't have any information at all, not even the beer's strength. It's just the beer and whatever your senses will be able to pick from it. Some people go as far as to use black glasses so they won't even be able to see what colour the beer is...

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