You Really Can’t Hide How You Feel About the Taste of a Beer, New Study Shows

by Megan Molseed
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Anyone who has followed the beer-making process knows that the science behind some of our favorite brews is quite amazing. And, taste-testing these beers is often quite an enjoyable pastime. But now, researchers have added another scientific component to the art of beer tasting. However, this component has little to do with the development of the brews themselves. Instead, this component focuses on how our faces react to the multiple flavors and tastes of the products. And, according to the study, most of us have two distinct faces when sampling our beers.

The Highlights

  • Researchers have identified two specific facial expressions we make depending on how we feel about the taste of a beer.
  • Using facial recognition technology, the researchers studied the reactions of study participants after sampling a brew.
  • Researchers note that this technology could help brewers understand what the consumers do and do not like.

Our Reaction to a Beer’s Taste Is Clearly Marked in Our Facial Expressions, One Study Says

Those who enjoy a good selection of beers, lagers, and stouts know that picking out the perfect flight combination is one of the best parts of the brewery experience. Some brews are super hoppy, others have a lighter composition. Still, other brews are a little sweeter…and some even have a fun little sour kick to them.

Now, according to a recent study, we don’t always have to put how we feel about a brew into words during a beer tasting. Apparently, it’s all in our expressions. New research has proven that there are two specific – and decidedly different – facial expressions we make after tasting a beer. These expressions, scientists note, can reveal how we truly feel about the taste of the brew immediately after tasting it.

Using state-of-the-art facial recognition technology, researchers in Japan scanned the faces of the study participants as they sampled a variety of brews. While gauging the taste-tester’s reactions, these researchers were able to identify two specific looks we display immediately after tasting a beer. Each one reveals volumes about how the beer-drinker feels about the brew.

The Reveal Is All in the Lips

The study reveals the two distinct facial expressions we make when tasting a beer focuses on how we move our lips. In the taste-testers who enjoyed their beer samples, the scientists recognize what they describe as a “lip suck.”

This expression is one where the lips are drawn inwards. Almost as if the beer-drinker is about to say “mmmm” in reaction to the brew.

The second expression involves a “lip press.” This facial expression involves the lips pressing down on top of each other. Researchers observed this facial expression in the beer drinkers who did not like the taste of their beer samples.

This New Technology Could Help Brewers Better Understand Consumer Preferences

Researchers note that this new beer-tasting technology can help beer developers better understand what consumers are looking for in a product. The scientists behind the project tell the Daily Mail that the facial recognition option helps brewers avoid “relying solely on explicit liking could lead to a misunderstanding of consumers’ real intentions.”

According to the findings, analyzing a taste-tester’s facial expressions may provide beer developers with a deeper understanding of a customer’s subconscious preferences. The technology achieves this, researchers note, by capturing the taster’s “objective responses to products after tasting.”