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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: dean on March 17, 2010, 11:29:48 PM

Title: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: dean on March 17, 2010, 11:29:48 PM
I had my wife serve me four glasses of Miller, two from a bottle and two from a can, all prepared in the kitchen while I waited in the living room.  I can tell the difference 100% of the time.  The bottled beer is clean while the canned beer has a dull cloyingly sweet and bitter flavor.  Just in case anybody wanted to know if I would actually do the test.   ;)
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: BrewArk on March 17, 2010, 11:34:18 PM
I had my wife serve me four glasses of Miller, two from a bottle and two from a can, all prepared in the kitchen while I waited in the living room.  I can tell the difference 100% of the time.  The bottled beer is clean while the canned beer has a dull cloyingly sweet and bitter flavor.  Just in case anybody wanted to know if I would actually do the test.   ;)

How many times have you repeated this?  Is it can/bottle or lot/lot variability?
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: dean on March 17, 2010, 11:47:46 PM
I purposely bought two 24 ounce bombers, one bottle and one can so that it couldn't be one can or bottle different from the rest.  I've always been able to tell the difference, but I've never tried it without seeing which one went into the glass.  Usually if I'm drinking BMC beer I don't even bother with the glass though.  Interestingly enough, I did like the extra bitter from the can, but then I'm kinda hooked on bitter beer too.  The cloying sweetness really stood out in the comparison though too.

I'm sure someone will say I should have done more but if I were to do ten glasses then why not do twenty and see if I notice if someone slips in a Bud...    :D 
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: MrNate on March 18, 2010, 06:16:38 AM
The real accomplishment is that you got your wife to pour you 4 beers.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: Kaiser on March 18, 2010, 12:19:59 PM
Thanks for bringing this up. I'll have to try this myself a some point.

Kai
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: bluesman on March 18, 2010, 12:46:43 PM
Thanks for bringing this up. I'll have to try this myself a some point.

Kai

+1

Food for thought.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 18, 2010, 03:24:59 PM
Thanks for doing the test and reporting the results, Dean.  2 questions remain now...first, what is it that's causing the difference?  Is it the cans or something else?  If it is the can causing the difference, what about the can is doing it?  Second, why is it that no one else has reported this?  Is it because no one has done the test the way you did it, or is it something else?  I'm teaching a BJCP class and I think we'll do this for the class.  That way, we'll have 15 more opinions from some people who are pretty good tasters.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: euge on March 18, 2010, 05:51:50 PM
I've noticed the difference between cans and bottled counterparts. Anecdotal evidence is often influenced by subjectivity. So why not try this with a group of 15 as Denny is suggesting and get the real skinny.

Though, for Miller products, is region important and an influencing factor?

Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: sienabrewer on March 18, 2010, 08:22:08 PM
I agree it is good information to build upon.  I have to admit what you describe in the difference is not what I expected.  I expected a report of something tasting metalic, which is not the case.  It is interesting to hear the description being cloying because that is something I guess normally would be attributed to a bad fermentation or overuse of an ingredient.  I'm also interested in what property of can a can makes it bitter. 

Denny, if you are going to go ahead and do a larger sample I'd make one suggestion.  Do it with both BMC beer and a craft beer.  I'd be really interested if a noticeable difference is in cheap crap beer, just craft beer, both, or neither.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 18, 2010, 08:30:40 PM
Denny, if you are going to go ahead and do a larger sample I'd make one suggestion.  Do it with both BMC beer and a craft beer.  I'd be really interested if a noticeable difference is in cheap crap beer, just craft beer, both, or neither.

I will if I can find a craft beer that comes in both cans and bottles.  But if it's due to the packaging, it seems like it shouldn't make a difference whether it's mass market or craft beer.  Next class won't be til 4/12, so it won't happen til then.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: MrNate on March 18, 2010, 08:32:24 PM
I think BMC is actually better for this test - less native flavor to mask the flavors you aim to detect.

I am anxious to hear further results.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: dean on March 20, 2010, 12:30:25 PM
Thats why I chose Miller High Life, its clean and has a low flavor profile, no specialty grains or at least a very low amount to throw your tastebuds off.  Let us know how the test turns out Denny. 
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: nyakavt on March 20, 2010, 11:44:29 PM
I must admit I'm quite surprised.  Although you didn't repeat this enough times to eliminate chance, it's at least somewhat unlikely that you would guess correctly twice in a row.  Did you find yourself mulling over your choice or was it like instantly 'that's it!'.  What about the freshness dates on the bottles cans, were they comparable?  I'll have to try this myself next time I head to the store.

I'm a bit confused by your taste results, the can was both sweet and bitter?  For me when I taste a beer that is sweet it is lacking in bitterness.  Bitterness could be from metal exposure, but sweetness has to be a fermentation or recipe issue.  You may have had a lot-lot variance which affected the outcome.

If you do the test again, a better one would be a triangle test, where you have two beers from one side and one beer from the other, and you pick out the beer that is different.  When doing a single side-by-side, you know they are different and you can sometimes get a false positive this way.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: dean on March 21, 2010, 12:49:34 PM
Nyakavt, since I hadn't had any Miller in at least 4 months and didn't taste either one before the test, I could not directly or immediately say which one was from a bottle or a can... what I was able to do was put them in order as to which ones tasted the exact same... ie the two glasses that were from cans were together and the two glasses that were from bottles were together.  Try it and you'll see what I mean.  Thats what kind of surprised me, I liked the extra bitterness of the can.  The bottles are cleaner... softer might be a better word for it?

Where does the extra bitter come from.... I believe it is from contact with the aluminum.  What is the chemical name for baking soda... I can't think of it, but it reacts with aluminum as I described in the cookware test... but the concentration is higher in the cookware test and it tastes like crap.  Anyway this is just a guess but I'd say all beer has some trace amount of that chemical in it... some beer has more?

I'll dig out the bottle and can to check the date on them...
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: weazletoe on March 21, 2010, 12:52:57 PM
 Second, why is it that no one else has reported this?  Is it because no one has done the test the way you did it, or is it something else?

My guess would be because it's BMC. It's pretty much gonna suck either way!  ;D
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 21, 2010, 03:40:59 PM
Dean, as far as I know, cans are lined so that beer doesn't contact metal.  Is that wrong?

EDIT:  I haven't found any direct info on beer cans, but here's some about soda cans...

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000100

I believe the final pH of beer is about the same as soda, so I'd expect beer cans to be lined for the same reasons.  But I'll keep looking for specific info.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: capozzoli on March 21, 2010, 08:33:52 PM
Nyakavt, since I hadn't had any Miller in at least 4 months and didn't taste either one before the test, I could not directly or immediately say which one was from a bottle or a can... what I was able to do was put them in order as to which ones tasted the exact same... ie the two glasses that were from cans were together and the two glasses that were from bottles were together.  Try it and you'll see what I mean.  Thats what kind of surprised me, I liked the extra bitterness of the can.  The bottles are cleaner... softer might be a better word for it?

Where does the extra bitter come from.... I believe it is from contact with the aluminum.  What is the chemical name for baking soda... I can't think of it, but it reacts with aluminum as I described in the cookware test... but the concentration is higher in the cookware test and it tastes like crap.  Anyway this is just a guess but I'd say all beer has some trace amount of that chemical in it... some beer has more?

I'll dig out the bottle and can to check the date on them...

Sodium Bicarbonate?

Didn't do the blind taste test but I tried bottle vs can of Bud lite, Couldn't taste a difference. However I did play around with pouring it in a glass as well as drinking from the can and bottle. Drinking from the can does give a certain metallic feel in the mouth.

Man, I cant believe I subjected myself to that. Im gonna go wash my mouth out with caustic.





 
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: nyakavt on March 22, 2010, 01:37:40 AM
Nyakavt, since I hadn't had any Miller in at least 4 months and didn't taste either one before the test, I could not directly or immediately say which one was from a bottle or a can... what I was able to do was put them in order as to which ones tasted the exact same... ie the two glasses that were from cans were together and the two glasses that were from bottles were together.  Try it and you'll see what I mean.  Thats what kind of surprised me, I liked the extra bitterness of the can.  The bottles are cleaner... softer might be a better word for it?

Oh ok, I didn't realize you did them all together.  This is just as good as a triangle, even a little more difficult since you had to pair down the like beers.  Really want to try this now.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 22, 2010, 03:15:12 PM
Nyakavt, since I hadn't had any Miller in at least 4 months and didn't taste either one before the test, I could not directly or immediately say which one was from a bottle or a can... what I was able to do was put them in order as to which ones tasted the exact same... ie the two glasses that were from cans were together and the two glasses that were from bottles were together.  Try it and you'll see what I mean.  Thats what kind of surprised me, I liked the extra bitterness of the can.  The bottles are cleaner... softer might be a better word for it?

Oh ok, I didn't realize you did them all together.  This is just as good as a triangle, even a little more difficult since you had to pair down the like beers.  Really want to try this now.

The thing I keep wondering about is not that there was a difference, but why the difference was that the can seemed more bitter.  What is it about the packaging that would create that taste?
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: nicneufeld on March 22, 2010, 03:24:43 PM
What is it about the packaging that would create that taste?

Simplest explanation is that the beer itself was different...different batches, or more likely given BMC's ridiculously good consistency, different ages.  Longer time on the shelf for one batch perhaps.  I mean, sitting in the back of a store refrigerator for weeks is a sort of cold conditioning....   ;D

The answer for me would be to add more beers to the group.  It would suck having to buy 8 different cases of what's generally considered not great beer, so Denny's idea of doing it in a BJCP class sounds great.  If you can increase the number of trained testers, and increase the sample set significantly of beers, then if there is a difference you should see a nice pattern emerge.  And all the different viewpoints should help define the differences too...we all use different language to describe taste sensations.  Seems like "metallic" is off the table at least, at least by this test.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 22, 2010, 03:38:02 PM
Simplest explanation is that the beer itself was different...different batches, or more likely given BMC's ridiculously good consistency, different ages.  Longer time on the shelf for one batch perhaps.  I mean, sitting in the back of a store refrigerator for weeks is a sort of cold conditioning....   ;D

That's my first thought, too.  How do we know what was tasted is attributable to the can itself?

Seems like "metallic" is off the table at least, at least by this test.

Yep.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: babalu87 on March 22, 2010, 03:46:08 PM
I really dont want to do this but my curiosity is peaked now................

Going to check the dates on the bottles/cans and I'll go with Coors
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: nicneufeld on March 22, 2010, 07:08:20 PM
Another point of differentiation...conditioning vs force carbing.  A lot of microbrews still bottle condition I gather so one would need, when extending the tests to microbrewed samples, to ensure that the bottled samples were force carbed as well.  The difference there (between natural and force carbonation) I think would be substantial, with a refermentation and a conditioning period.  Also, I wonder about flash pasteurization, that could also account for differences.  Do they flash pasteurize before or after packaging? 

When we're done with this we can test my ability to taste "steeliness" when beers are fermented in stainless steel fermentors.  :D  Here's an example of one such beer reeking with steel flavor:

(http://blogs.citypages.com/food/Steel-Reserve-Can.jpg)
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: MDixon on March 22, 2010, 11:36:03 PM
The 8% steel reserve wasn't bad, especially if someone presented it to you as a maibock.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: euge on March 23, 2010, 05:24:33 AM
The 8% steel reserve wasn't bad, especially if someone presented it to you as a maibock.

Interesting...
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: jwatkins56550 on March 23, 2010, 02:16:05 PM
Maybe it was because the cans didn't turn blue to show you it was cold enough...or it wasn't beechwood aged ;).  Cans are lined with plastic so there shouldn't be any contact with the metal.  Denny if you are looking for a craft beer that comes in both cans and bottles, I know Brooklyn Lager does...I'm not sure if you can get that readily in Oregon.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: glitterbug on March 23, 2010, 02:20:54 PM
Maybe it was because the cans didn't turn blue to show you it was cold enough...or it wasn't beechwood aged ;).  Cans are lined with plastic so there shouldn't be any contact with the metal.  Denny if you are looking for a craft beer that comes in both cans and bottles, I know Brooklyn Lager does...I'm not sure if you can get that readily in Oregon.

Fat Tire also comes in bottles and cans
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: mikeypedersen on March 23, 2010, 02:51:11 PM
Maybe it was because the cans didn't turn blue to show you it was cold enough...or it wasn't beechwood aged ;).  Cans are lined with plastic so there shouldn't be any contact with the metal.  Denny if you are looking for a craft beer that comes in both cans and bottles, I know Brooklyn Lager does...I'm not sure if you can get that readily in Oregon.

Fat Tire also comes in bottles and cans
So does Moose Drool.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: dean on March 25, 2010, 07:01:32 PM
This will set some of you back then too... my brother inlaw only drinks Miller HL (about 40 years now) and he won't drink it from a bottle because he prefers it from a can... and he can taste the difference.   You should have seen his face when I had him try an IPA.   :D :D :D ;D  I laughed so hard I almost fell out of the chair.   ;D
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: narvin on March 25, 2010, 08:28:20 PM
What if the cans are actually keeping it fresher, and the taste you are getting is the true taste of Miller Lite?
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: denny on March 26, 2010, 03:33:08 PM
This will set some of you back then too... my brother inlaw only drinks Miller HL (about 40 years now) and he won't drink it from a bottle because he prefers it from a can... and he can taste the difference.   You should have seen his face when I had him try an IPA.   :D :D :D ;D  I laughed so hard I almost fell out of the chair.   ;D

Okay, let's assume there is a difference, since you guys can taste it...where does the difference come from?  How does it relate to the packaging?  Those are the real questions now.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: boulderbrewer on March 26, 2010, 03:44:20 PM
Was your test MHL?

If so, then the difference could be a different recipe because it comes in a clear bottle as opposed to the cans.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: nyakavt on March 30, 2010, 03:42:34 PM
I was searching for finished beer pH on google and came across this study below.  We don't have a good reference for what the stated levels of aluminum in the beer mean, but it at least indicates that aluminum does leech into packaged beer over time, and does so faster at room temperature vs. refrigerated temperature.

Quote
Detection of aluminum residue in fresh and stored canned beer

This article is not included in your organization's subscription. However, you may be able to access this article under your organization's agreement with Elsevier.

M. M. Velaa, R. B. Tomaa, , W. Reiboldta and A. Pierrib

a California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA

b Weck Laboratories, Inc., City of Industry, California, CA 91745, USA

Received 23 May 1997;  accepted 29 September 1997. ; Available online 30 October 1998.

Abstract
The United States produces about 200 million barrels of beer each year from which a large percentage is packaged into aluminum cans. It is important to identify the possible effects a particular foodstuff may induce on its package especially when it is being purchased and consumed nationwide on a regular basis. Very few studies have been done on aluminum can corrosion by beer. The purpose of this study was to compare aluminum levels in fresh, and stored, canned beer representative of U.S. quality draft. A 2 × 2 × 4 design was employed for two brands of beer, A and B, held at two different temperatures of 23 °C (room temperature) and 5 °C (refrigerated) over a period of 5 months. Room temperature beer was found to contain more aluminum (108μgl−1) than refrigerated beer and brand A at room temperature had significantly more aluminum content (546μgl−1) than brand B (414μgl−1) at the end of the duration of storage period. Aluminum content changes from day 0 to day 150 were significant. From these results, it is shown that aluminum cans are corroded over time by canned beer. However this corrosion may be reduced through refrigeration.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6R-3V091KP-G&_user=798712&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F1998&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1274796816&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000043604&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=798712&md5=030f70c02f3a94f073e4769ce2aa91f5
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: Hokerer on March 30, 2010, 03:58:32 PM
Interesting.  One thing I wonder, since that study's from 1997, is if/how the lining of cans differs between then and now.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: euge on March 30, 2010, 07:01:22 PM
I'm willing to bet that for the big players like BMC, the cans aren't very old when they fly off the shelf. Probably packaged only a day or two before they get sold and consumed.
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: tygo on March 30, 2010, 07:12:23 PM
That's why you need to cellar them for a few months to get that glinty aluminum taste  ;)
Title: Re: FYI: blind taste test
Post by: Podo on March 31, 2010, 03:19:44 AM
Any chance they came from different breweries?  I don't know how Miller is brewed, but Bud and Coors are brewed in multiple locations.