From the Norwegian end of the beer blogging universe, Larsblog has a great post from last week about a course for becoming a certified beer judge. The blind tasting experiments described are fascinating and, I'm guessing, more than a little humbling.
Lars and his fellow would-be judges are given a variety of tests. A triangle test: which two of these three are in fact the same beer? Guess the style, dunkel or brown ale? And then a devious trick involving food coloring:
We were then given a batch of three unidentified black beers, and told to write notes on them, then attempt to guess the beer styles. After tasting the three we were asked one by one to read our notes on the first one, all of which went along the lines of "roasty, caramel, maybe a bit neutral". The shock was considerable when we were told that it was, again, Ringnes Pils, this time with some black colouring added to it. Every single one of the 10 participants claimed to taste roastiness in the beer, and not one of the 10 so much as came near the idea that this might be a pilsener. An interesting example of the sense of taste being affected by visual signals.The guys undergoing the trials weren't neophytes either. Definitely read the full post.