Science Says You’re Wrong About Pairing IPAs and Spicy Foods

Dr. Nicole Garneau 12/22/2016

Originally published for, awarded in 2017 for the category of Best Beer and Food Articles by the North American Guild of Beer Writers.

My career cultivating a scientific understanding about flavor has prepared me for contributing to beer knowledge, but not “growing up” in the industry means that I often am not aware of the many shared stories, anecdotes and oral histories that have been passed down from one brewing generation to the next. So it’s not surprising that I find myself stumbling into these moments of tension where my grasp on the science behind a phenomenon, like beer calming spice, doesn’t quite match up with the brewing industry’s perspective.

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Crowdtasting: Pairing Experiment in Beer and Umami


The Beer & Food Working Group had three goals for prototyping the Crowdtasting: The Science of Beer & Food Pairingsresearch event we hosted on March 25, 2016. 1) We wished to understand what the logistics of ethically engaging 400 people into a flavor study at the Museum would look like when done efficiently and effectively. 2) We needed to establish if crowdtasting research events attract people that will take the research seriously and provide high quality data. 3) We wanted to learn how to better design the recipes, select the beers and ask the questions of a crowdtasting audience to ensure that the results would withstand peer-reviewed scientific publication.

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