HOMEBREW Digest #5344 Fri 13 June 2008

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  mouthfeel/SD Fair ("Chad Stevens")
  Subjectivity in Tasting ("Alexandre Enkerli")
  Mouthfeel and body (Fred L Johnson)
  Mouthfeel ("Jerry \"Beaver\" Pelt")

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 21:21:56 -0700 From: "Chad Stevens" <zuvaruvi at cox.net> Subject: mouthfeel/SD Fair A nice rundown on gustatory perception: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste San Diego County Fair Craft Brewer's Competition & Festival June 21st, noon to 8:00 p.m. Winners here: http://www.sdfair.com/fair/index.php?fuseaction=events.wine_beer Hope to see some of you! Chad Stevens San Diego Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 00:38:17 -0400 From: "Alexandre Enkerli" <enkerli at gmail.com> Subject: Subjectivity in Tasting Piggybacking on the mouthfeel discussion. Well, honestly, as a social scientist and an artist, I can't really say I share Fred's frustration over difficult or impossible to measure characteristics. I understand the frustration, I respect it. I just don't share it. In fact, I often wonder why it seems important to *reduce* perception to measurement, in the case of something which is meant to be enjoyed. No offence intended, of course. Fred and others aren't at fault. It's just that the perspective puzzles me. >From what I gather, human perception is, by definition, subjective. A subject perceives an object. Characteristics of that object only matter if they are perceived and the perceiving subject adds a lot to the perception event which is not present in the object. We could talk about sensitivity to certain flavours, taste memory, expectation about what different styles taste like, the "power of suggestion," etc. These all have an impact on perception. And perception is the basis for enjoyment. Yes, this perspective shifts some control away from the object's creator into a kind of ethereal domain. But it also helps explain why some things are enjoyed, in specific contexts. A "lawnmower" beer on a hot summer day. A luxurious Old Ale with a heavy meal. A Sour Ale with someone you love... A neat thing about subjectivity is that it can lead to intersubjectivity. It's quite different from objectivity but it's also more "powerful." People can "share about" some perception of an object all the while knowing that their perceptions remain resolutely distinct. Through this sharing, the experience may be enhanced. People can take pleasure in tasting a beer because, with the help of somebody else's subjectivity, they discover something new about it. Personally, I think "mouthfeel" is an appropriate category for certain descriptors. And it's helpfully subjective. Sure, there are many factors influencing mouthfeel. And, sure, as brewers we like to find out what those factors are. But, IMHO, the main thing here is about a subjective experience, not about a measurable value. We probably all know what a "smooth finish" is. Sure, many dimensions of the "smooth finish" can (and probably should) be analyzed. But there's enough in "smooth finish" to encompass multiple dimensions of an experience. Same thing could be said about "crispness," another term I find helpfully subjective. It may depend on mineral content, carbonation, astringency, alcohol, finishing gravity, etc. It's probably even more complex. And, along with all sorts of beautiful thing, it makes for beer being a wonderfully complex beverage. Ale-X in Laval, Qc [888km, 62.5deg] AR http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 07:25:53 -0400 From: Fred L Johnson <FLJohnson52 at nc.rr.com> Subject: Mouthfeel and body There have been a lot of great points offered regarding my questions on mouthfeel, body, and viscosity. Undoubtedly there are several contributors to mouthfeel and body that I failed to include in my list. I did fail to mention protein as one of those. Protein would certainly affect viscosity just as the sugar and alcohol content of the beer would. I am just trying to get at a simple measurement of something that strongly correlates to what a taster might mean when he says "This beer lacks body". I am still betting that viscosity is going to be the single strongest predictor of what that taster means. Such a relationship wouldn't be too hard to establish. This topic is certainly nothing new. The relationship between the sensation of body and the liquids viscosity value is probably covered in Food Science 101. Food scientists probably understand these things like the back of their hand. In fact, a quick search on the internet of the food science literature will yield several papers in which body and viscosity are essentially equated. (Any bona fide food scientists out there listening who could lead this lost soul into the light?) Regarding mouthfeel, I must agree that there are other tactile sensations that tasters would lump into the mouthfeel category. Something that is gritty certainly has a mouthfeel that would not be captured in a viscosity measurement, but gritty isn't something we usually encounter in a description of beer, except in Josh's humorous reference to the broken glass one might have found in a beer on the shelf recently. (Thanks, Josh, for keeping me laughing.) Here is where carbonation certainly comes in to play. Astringency is another mouthfeel that is independent of body. I guess I was thinking of those times when a taster would say, "This beer has lots of mouthfeel." One could argue that such a statement simply isn't a very meaningful one. Perhaps such a taster meant the beer had lots of body. I suppose mouthfeel is not something that one can assign a numeric value. Rather, mouthfeel is relegated to having only descriptive terms. (Sigh--just one more thing my homemade brewing software will never be able to calculate.) I'm not so sure that carbonation level actually affects body, although one's perception of body might be altered, just as the perceived bitterness of a beer is affected by the amount of sugar in the beer, but sugar doesn't affect the IBU levels. Thanks again for the feedback. This is fun! Fred L Johnson Apex, North Carolina, USA Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 07:04:45 -0700 (PDT) From: "Jerry \"Beaver\" Pelt" <beaverplt at yahoo.com> Subject: Mouthfeel Hi, Most of the time I lurk but would like to weigh in on this. Everyone so far has made good points. The one thing I've yet to see is the human factor. In beer tastings I've done with friends, Mouthfeel has been all over the map. Most agree or at least come close in their description, but there are always one or two differences. If this factor wasn't involved, we'd only need one judge at contests, right? Jerry "Beaver" Pelt Return to table of contents
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