Earlier this week I was contacted on Twitter by Gareth Langston who work works for !TA* Venues about attending a ‘beer and music’ tasting event in London tonight. I asked for more details and was duly informed that it was a VIP invitation-only event being held at Brewers Hall and being hosted by none other than legendary beer writer Pete Brown.
I have been promised an evening that will be a “live experiment proving how our taste buds are influenced by the music we hear” and that the event will “challenge my sensory perceptions”. The evening is the result of several years’ of research by Pete and will bring together cutting edge research into how music can influence what we taste as we listen.
Music? Influencing how beer tastes? Really? Stay tuned for live* updates…
I arrive at Brewers Hall in London to find myself in the midst of a gathering of industry bods, beer enthusiasts and associated others. Grand old building no doubt steeped in history and about the participate in the ‘Beer and Music’ matching evening. I’ve had a cheeky look at the beer list (yum) and he music list (hmm?) and I’m now just waiting for the start.
First beer up is Chapel Down Curious Brew Brut (4.7%) – British lager brewed with champagne yeast. Paired with Sugababes ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’. The beer – a very winey aroma with a very cleansing taste, not like a beer at all, almost like a sparkling wine but with a very dry finish. Wouldn’t be one that I’d go back for again but let’s see if the music improves it… The combination is designed to make it feel like Saturday night. Hmm. I don’t like cover versions or the Sugababes and wonder if this would have been better with the Arctic Monkeys original but it is feeling like Saturday night in the local club.
Next up a staple favourite and beer that we’ve featured on the show before – Duvel (8%) and this is to be matched with The Pixies ‘Debaser’. I have no musical reference point here! We know the beer’s good as we’ve reviewed it before, so let’s see what the music does… Well that works. Again, taking me to a club back in the 90’s but complimenting the beer really well.
There are some great scientific insights from Pete about the senses affecting the way that we perceive things but I’m finding it difficult to keep up with what he’s saying and to capture it here. But take my word for it, the science behind this is truly fascinating. Although I did get “it’s a load of bollocks” at one point. And that was from Pete himself!
Moving on we’re heading into sour territory with Boon Oude Gueuze (7%) matched with Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’. The beer – it’s got that amazing aroma that you get from a lambic and this one has been brewed with wild yeast. Yes! Palate cleansing or destroying but just what I’m needing right now. There’s sharp lemon and that ‘packet if refreshers in the mouth’ feel to it. Stunning. Radiohead is blaring in the background. Meh. (Although that might say more about my musical preferences than anything else!!!)
Love this next beer – Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (7%), I’ve gone on record before to say how much I love this beer but we’ve got two tracks to accompany this one – one for the bitterness (Porcelain by Moby) and one for sweetness (Turn Turn Turn! by the Byrds). Both tracks compliment the beer in equal measures as the initial sweetness followed by the subtle bitter hint continue to wash over me.
Excited about the last two pairings! First up, Rochefort 10 (11%) with some Hendrix. Hang on, I might need a few moments…
The aroma of the beer is Black Forest gateaux through and through. There’s a smokey aroma, taste and lingering finish. A little bit of cream in there but finished perfectly by the faultless fretting of Hendrix and ‘All Along The Watchtower’ in the background.
The final combo. Oh my. Worthington White Shield (5.6%) and Elbow ‘One Day Like This’. Please give me another moment…
This track gives me goosebumps EVERY time, it is without fault in my mind. The beer works perfectly with it. It’s very English, has an initial hit a bittersweet flavours followed by a long, lasting bitter finish. A great finish to the night.
Thanks to Gareth, !TA* Venues and Pete Brown for a very insightful and enjoyable evening. As the guests begin to depart a few of us hang around and I get chatting with Chris from The Guest Ale while we drain what was left of the selected beers. I go in for another Boon Oude Gueuze and this time I get the whole bottle to myself! Having cleansed my palate sufficiently I say my goodbyes, find Elbow on my iPod and head home.
*This was originally our first attempt at a live blog and has since been edited.