If I wanted water, I would have asked for water.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Question

In comments below, "Anonymous" noticed something I've noticed, too--that sourness tends to dissipate with warmth. This is odd, because cold tends to (in Michael Jackson's words) "anesthetize the palate."
I'm just starting to get into sour beers and I'm sure this is an amateur question, but why do sour beers become less sour as they warm in the glass? (In Supplication's case, this was a nice feature as my amateur taste buds were able to decipher a few more aspects of the beer but no one at our table could figure out why). We’ve also noticed this trend with some of Raccoon Lodges beer as well as Cantillion’s.
Yup, I've noticed it, too, and on this one you've got me stumped. (There goes the well-tended illusion that I know something about beer.) Why do other flavors emerge when a beer warms, while sourness recedes?

(BTW, you anonymous commenters--any chance you could sign your posts, even pseudonymously, so I can recognize you when you comment?)


Joe said...


I think answers your question. Is there anything better than Google by the way?

Joe said...


Is the right address, sorry about that.

Joe said...

One more try since it seems to not allow the entire web adress, slap a .htm on the end.

Jeff Alworth said...

Good man! You are a better Googler than I, Joe. I have learned to Google before I post, for embarrasment is a harsh teacher. But I came up with bupkis.

The relevant paragraph appears at the very end:

"We conducted informal tests on each other to confirm his observation," Green said. "While doing so, we noticed a sour taste when the tongue tip was cooled to about 15C below normal mouth temperature, and a salty taste when it was cooled to about 25C below mouth temperature. This paper reports formal experiments we conducted to quantify the phenomenon and to study its relationship to chemical taste."

I wouldn't mind a bit more data, but this does seem like a good start.

df34 said...

Thanks to everyone for satisfying my curiosity. (I was the anonymous poster who forgot his password and didn't bother getting a new one until now). I would have never guessed that the change in taste was due to my taste buds as opposed to a change in the beer itself.

You guys are great! Thanks again for the info and all the great beer tips along the way.

Anonymous said...

I would've said the opposite myself… New Belgium's La Folie didn't start out tasting sour, but certainly got there by the end, and I let it warm up considerably… not deliberately, mind you. Of course, I could have been confusing the sourness in my stomach with the sourness of the beer. :) But I found the same to be true of the Supplication… it just seemed to get more sour the more I drank it - but I don't know if that's temperature or lack of a palette cleanser.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to sign…


Post a Comment

NOTE: Blogspot has been eating some comments, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. IF your comment doesn't appear, it's not you, it's not me, it's the genuiuses at Google. Sorry--