Can you hear a taste? We think you can. Tasting Notes is a data-driven musical representation of the taste of beer, based on scores compiled from beer expert Malin Derwinger. For this data sonification, we asked Malin to look at, smell and taste ten different beers and log her findings using a unique beer scoring system she has developed. Then we turned those taste scores into ten short pieces of music that mirror the sensory experience of cracking open a bottle and taking a swig.
Taste is complex, and so is this sonification. Each of the ten beers is based on ten different scores that reflect its aroma, mouthfeel, taste and appearance. Aroma is made up of three components: malt, hops and fermentation. Mouthfeel is made of two: body and carbonation. Taste is made of sweetness, alcohol, acidity and bitterness.
The louder the sound, the more pronounced the aroma or flavour component in that beer. And the character of each sound matches its taste. For example, carbonation, or fizziness, is represented by a rapid upwards sweep mimicking bubbles on the tongue. The fizzier the beer, the louder the sound.
Finally, we also included a tenth score for colour, based on how the beer looks. Lighter beers are shifted up in pitch, and darker beers are shifted down, with medium beers, well, in the middle. Each piece of music lasts between about ten seconds and a minute – beers with a stronger aftertaste linger longer.
We’ve brought these ten short pieces together into a track, accompanied by Malin telling us a little about each beer in turn. So grab a cold one from the fridge, sit back and enjoy!
Data was provided by Malin Derwinger, according to her standard beer-judging schema. Aroma was judged in the categories of intensity, malt, hops, fermentation and other. Taste was judged in the categories of intensity, carbonation, body, sweetness, acidity, alcohol, bitterness and aftertaste duration. Appearance was judged in the categories of foam, clarity and colour. We used all of these categories in our sonification except taste and aroma intensity, foam and clarity.
The full list of tasted beers comprises: Czech Pilsner, Alcohol-Free Lager, IPA (West Coast Style), Stout (Irish), Witbier, Fruit Sour, Gueuze, Rauchbier, Best Bitter, Strong Belgian Dark Ale, and Gose. We sonified scores from all these beers except the West Coast IPA (cut for length reasons!)