Engineering the taste of beer

It was another busy day. I worked on a Darths & Droids comic for tomorrow, which I had to get done today so it will be ready for publication in time. Then a bit before 11am I had to leave to head into the university on the train for today’s last Data Engineering tutorial session.

The students’ final projects are due on Friday, so today was the last time they got to sit in class and work on it, and ask us any questions about their projects. One team is doing an experiment to try to determine relationships between amount of hops, boiling time, and perception of bitterness in pre-brewing beer solutions. And today they brought in their samples and were getting people in the class to taste them and answer a survey.

I did the survey. The first survey question was “How much do you like bitter drinks?” (1-10 scale). I said 8, since I like beer and stuff like Campari and herbal bitters. Then I tasted the four samples and rated them as bitterness levels 2, 5, 4, and I think 6 (out of 10). Then the professor did the same test, saying 5 for how much he liked bitter drinks. His ratings of the bitterness levels of the samples was about 3 or 4 points higher than mine.

And then I saw them have a woman in the class do the survey. She said she didn’t like bitter drinks. She tasted the first sample, and said “Oh my god! That’s horrible… yuk!!!” And she ended up rating them all in the 8-10 range for bitterness. And immediately ran out to get some water as soon as she was done.

The students said one of the things they were trying to determine was if a taster’s preference for bitter drinks affected how bitter they perceived the solutions to be. Looks like that’s a positive correlation!

On the way home I went via the game shop where I still had some store credit to spend. I found a copy of Kids on Bikes, which I snapped up, as I’ve been trying to get my hands on it for some time. That left me only about $30 credit left, which I used to buy some card sleeves and hard plastic top loaders for safely sending Magic cards through the mail. I’ve been using quite a few selling my cards, so a few extra boxes won’t go astray.

Tonight I started the new ethics class topic on Arguments. Had a couple of new students, and things went smoothly.

New content today:

2 thoughts on “Engineering the taste of beer”

  1. I’m that annoying science teacher guy. I’d ask them to calibrate their 1-10 scale by giving me endpoints, say 1=water, 10=Angostura or something.

    I mean, we science nerds know that unanchored numbers are meaningless. (Note: I am well aware that Dr. Morgan-Mar knows this better than me.)

    1. And in reality, I’d probably use something like the Scoville scale for hot foods, where I’d suggest diluting the liquids until they match the bitterness of some arbitrary “1” item, say light beer.

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