…or how to look silly on YouTube wearing a blindfold and eating fruit.
Descriptions of hop aromas and flavors sometimes use fruit to help us understand them better. Well, what if you don’t really understand fruit flavors and aromas? We think you should get to know flavors. With practice and maybe some sensory deprivation, you too can train your taste buds. In this video, Mike set up an experiment for me to see if I could pick out the fruit from what I was tasting with a blindfold on. Watch to see how I did and how you can start your training as well.
The Blind Tasting
Here are the fruits that Mike set up and how I fared on picking them out.
These were easy. I have been eating this fruit all my life and the flavor was easily recognizable. They were still in their berry form so I guess I would have recognized their shape too, but the taste clicked in my brain first. As much as I like Mosaic hops, may they be Cryo or not, I have yet to get anything “notably blueberry” out of them.
Another fruit that I have a long history with. Even though they were in a cube shape, the flavor was strong and I picked it up quickly. I even said they tasted like canned peaches and Mike backed me up stating that they were in light syrup. Many NEIPAs have a peachy flavor (not necessarily hop derived) but it good to match this flavor with the original.
My ability to recognize the fruits went downhill starting here, where Mike peeling grapes made it hard to figure them out. Without the skins, the insides of green grapes are sweet – almost pear in flavor. The texture was soft so I knew it wasn’t pear so I took this part of the blind tasting as a learning moment. Many times, Mike describes hop flavors that are fruity but are not berry, citrus, or stone fruit as green grape. I think this flavor is strongly connected to melon and pear.
Oh boy – this one was weird. Earthly and plum-like, this little globe was difficult to place. Now, I am not a lychee expert. I may have had one when I was on a business trip. I can tell you, with a blindfold on and a camera on to capture it, this was the first time I tasted canned lychees. Yes, they do have a sweetness but they are strange. I am not sure I have encountered them as a flavor in a beer…yet.
You Can Train Your Sense Of Taste Too
So, hopefully you take something away from this video. I can say I was a bit hesitant to go through with this tasting blindfolded, but it did take a big part of my ability to take information into my brain out of the experiment.
This kind of set up may be extreme but it was helpful for me. If you don’t want to go through with a full blind tasting, a good place to start in training your taste buds is being more mindful when you eat. Take time to understand what you are experiencing when you taste food and commit it to memory. It takes practice but with time, you’ll get better at it.
Also – try foods you have never tried before. Expand your knowledge of food. See if you can put descriptors to new food or even new dishes at restaurants. Mindful eating is a great part of getting to be a better taster of beer.