"Pepsi Challenge" effect on beer

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by wyatt, Mar 28, 2012.

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  1. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    After reading the Dark Lord thread I was wondering if this has ever been discussed. I enjoy beer tastings, but I would always prefer drink an entire glass of beer in order to really judge it. I enjoy drinking the beer and tasting the changes as it warms and as my palate adjusts to the flavors. Often I enjoy a sip or two of beer, but by the end of the glass I decide that I don't like it. This is especially true for sweet beers and very strong beers.

    This got me thinking about tasting and people who review from tastings. It seems that at tasting and festivals people often get only a few ounces of a beer and decide if they like the beer from that. Have you all ever considered if you would like that same beer if you had say 12 oz of it? Maybe this is why sweet beers such as Dark Lord and Black Tuesday are so polarizing?

    I was wondering what other BA's thought about this.
  2. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    I would imagine this is certainly a large bias and both of these beers are had in tasting/festival settings likely a large percentage of the time. I would imagine I do find myself liking drier and less intense beers more when drinking a full serving.
  3. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    There is some validity to the argument that small sample size does not always give an appropriate opportunity to adequately access a beer. I do not believe this to be the reason "sweet beers" are so polarizing though, I believe intensely sweet beers are polarizing because many either love or hate an overwhelming sweetness in their beers.

    I will argue that from personal experience, it takes a much smaller amount of a bigger beer for me to form an opinion. I will often finish a review with in the first few ounces of a beer, I will not finalize the review until I finish the beer but with many big beers I often have very little to amend. I can comfortably say that my initial impression of both Dark Lord and Black Tuesday were remarkably similar to that of my impression after consuming a full serving.
    VncentLIFE likes this.
  4. Thehuntmaster

    Thehuntmaster Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 South Africa

    I always try to have a full serving (330ml) of a beer I am going to review. The only exception was at the beer festival recently went to. I reviewed 3-4 beers off of a 180ml serving. And yes, I know you are not meant to review at festivals, but this one was an outdoor festival, so you could walk away from the crowds and taste the beer in peace.
  5. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    IMO 180ml is plenty for a review with more intensely flavored beers and probably at least sufficient for just about any beer.
  6. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I had this happen to me a couple of weeks ago; I think you are definitely onto something (for those who don't recall, Pepsi clearly beat out Coke in the "Pepsi Challenge"). I am entering a Rauchbier in an upcoming homebrew competition and was given the advice to compare to commercial examples that were smokier to see how subtler versions can get lost in the mix. I bought a Schlenkerla Maerzen, a Schlenkerla Urbock, and a Sam Adams Cinder Bock as comparisons. After the first few small sips, the Sam Adams honestly struck me as the best -- and the most balanced -- of the three. However, as I continued to sip and compare, the initial impression of the SA faded fast and the beer seemed to turn cloyingly sweet. Conversely, the true complexity and balance of the Schlenkerla beers began to emerge...and continued to impress themselves on me even as I neared the end of the bottles. My homebrewed Rauchbier -- with its more subtle balance of smoke and German dark caramel, pils, and Munich malts than even the Schlenkerla beers -- really started to emerge as well. At the end I couldn't bring myself to drink another sip of the SA, but I remained amazed at how good it had tasted with those first 2 oz. or so...especially in light of how undrinkable I found it at the end.
    TongoRad likes this.
  7. NoLeafClover44

    NoLeafClover44 Crusader (701) Feb 24, 2011 Delaware
    Beer Trader

    :grimacing: metric system!
    tronester and brooklynbrews like this.
  8. bum732

    bum732 Meyvn (1,150) Feb 18, 2008 Lesotho

    This is why i'm skeptical of "tickers", as entertaining as they are.
    Longstaff and FatBoyGotSwagger like this.
  9. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    I recall nickd had a rule, I believe it was the rule of 27. 27 divided by ABV will give you the number of ounces needed to review a beer.
    gustogasmic likes this.
  10. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    are they entertaining? the only things nickd717 taught me are " 2 oz are all you need " and " 2 jokes are all you need. "

    (insert some prattling about ticking dave and m)
  11. bum732

    bum732 Meyvn (1,150) Feb 18, 2008 Lesotho

    Don't forget all the hop puns. The fact that i laughed at your post says a lot about my maturity.
  12. Thehuntmaster

    Thehuntmaster Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 South Africa

    Sadly yes :slight_frown:
  13. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Ha, approximately an ounce and a half of Black Tuesday. I think you've probably drank enough for a review if you don't find yourself needing another few sips to pick out more characteristics of the beer.
  14. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    exactly what I do. i usually go back and add subtleties I missed.
  15. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    You don't need a full glass, or a full pint of a beer to be able to leave a review on it. You also don't need to taste the beer over its temperature evolution to be able to leave a review on it. Professional alcoholic beverage tasters often don't even drink their sample...they swish it around and spit it back out, because consuming a fair amount of beer adversely affects the palette.

    While many beers will change in taste as they warm up, that shouldn't matter much - they are meant to be served and enjoyed at a specific temperature. The fact that you may or may not like a warm beer is irrelevant, so long as you are able to try it at its specified temp. Many beers taste really bad warm, but that doesn't mean they are bad beers.
  16. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    I cannot agree with these statements and find them rather misleading

    Sure, you don't need to but then you may sacrifice quality of the review.

    If you do not allow a beer to warm you are not painting a complete picture. Your Professional alcoholic beverage taster statement in an oversimplification and really not an appropriate comparison here. We need to forget about all other alcohols and focus on beer. We must also remember we are reviewing and not judging. A quality review should be descriptive and in depth. You cannot accomplish this without the full experience.

    Beer can change drastically and yes, it does matter. Beer often have a suggested serving temperature but that is not to say they are not meant to be enjoyed through out the spectrum of temperature changes. Find me a brewer who says craft beer is only suppose to be enjoyed at one specific temperature.

    If a beer only tastes good cold, there is potentially a big issue. Cold can mask many flavors, if a beer need to be cold in order to enjoy I do not consider that a good beer. I have no issue with a beer becoming less enjoyable as it warms but if it goes from good to really bad with warmth than yes there is an issue.
  17. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    I am no where near a professional alcoholic beverage taster. I also often do not agree with them. I like to make my own decisions on beer and often need a regular serving amount to make a fair review.
  18. BobZ

    BobZ Zealot (508) Jun 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    I don't review a beer on less than an 11 oz. sample. (I would have said 11.2 oz or 330ml but I have reviewed on 1/2 a bomber so that's where the 11 oz. comes from :wink:) .

    The 2 oz. pours at festivals are enough to let me know if I want to seek out and try more of a beer, but I don't count 2 oz. as an adequate serving size to fully evaluate a beer (or frankly to even say I've "had" that beer).

    As Kzoobrew noted changes in taste and mouthfeel as the temperature changes are important. For example, I liked BCBS when it was cold but to my palate it became a sticky, cloying, hot mess as it warmed.
  19. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    Sampling less than 4oz. only tells me one of 2 things-

    1) I would like to acquire a full bottle/pour of that beer
    2) I will not go through the hassle to get a bottle/pour of that beer
  20. Lantern

    Lantern Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2011

  21. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Obviously we disagree on the type and quantity of input (beer) required to write a well-informed review. That's not misleading, it's just that you need more data before you draw your conclusions.

    I've done extensive wine and whiskey tasting, and developed my palette on those mediums. I can apply that same method to beer, where I only need a few sips to experience a beer. I agree that not everyone can do this, but I'm assuming BAs probably should be able to.

    Tasters warm up while you hold them, and I'm more of the mindset that warm is 70F+. Beer doesn't need to shine above that temp to be excellent, IMO. Now if it's good at 48F but terrible at 65F, then there's obviously a problem, but I've never experienced that.

    You're right, and I made a gross oversimplification. I was trying to reiterate that a beer doesn't have to taste delicious through a 40 degree temperature range to be a delicious beer.

    Agreed. I should've specified what I consider cold vs. warm. All beer should be allowed to warm and open up, but I don't think I've ever had a beer that I enjoyed at 48F but disliked at 65F. I, like most experienced tasters/drinkers, can determine whether or not I like a beer in the first few sips.

    tjensen summarized well.

    And I've taken notes and left reviews on beer with only a 2.5 oz taster. Revisiting a bottle of the same beer later didn't change my mind on my initial notes. That's my point.
  22. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    We have moved away from my point some. What I was trying to say is would a small portion (say 4oz) be more enjoyable than a whole bottle? Also, would that effect further desirability.
  23. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, it may be to some. For all the reasons hidden in the long posts above. Depends on how good of a taster you are I guess, the temperature of the sample, the freshness of the sample vs. the bottle, etc.

    Personally, I haven't experienced drastic differences between small tasters and the bottled equivalent. But that definitely doesn't mean it can't happen.

    And doesn't the "Pepsi Challenge" refer to a blind taste test between Pepsi and Coke? :wink:
  24. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Well, what I was trying to say is that 2-4 oz. can be more enjoyable than a bottle while, paradoxically, negatively affecting desirability.
  25. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    To quote Wikipedia: In his book, Blink, author Malcolm Gladwell presents evidence that suggests Pepsi's success over Coca-Cola in the "Pepsi Challenge" is a result of the flawed nature of the "sip test" method. His research shows that tasters will generally prefer the sweeter of two beverages based on a single sip, even if they prefer a less sweet beverage over the course of an entire can. Just because a taster prefers a single sip of a sweeter beverage, doesn't mean he or she would prefer to have an entire case of it at home.
  26. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    I was trying to broaden the sweet aspect in the study to include sour and strong alcohol flavors.
  27. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Yes. This explains 90% of the Top 100 here. Be the sweetness from the citrusy hops, the chocolate, the vanilla, the bourbon, the bananas, or the blueberries...and/or, of course, from the 2 oz. samples the raters managed to obtain at the rare tasting event.
    tronester likes this.
  28. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    Thats what I wanted to bring up. I should have been more clear in the first post.
  29. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    I can buy that this explains part of the appeal but there are still many people who rate these beers just as high when consuming a full bottle. To simply say this explains it seems very incomplete and short sighted to me.
    jtmartino likes this.
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Well, as you yourself said above, with these "big" beers, their true nature is usually there from start to finish; in more subtle beers, especially when tasted following, or in comparison to, the big beers, their true qualities only emerge after one or more full beers (which, when tasted in comparison, can also reveal the cloying, overly sweet nature of the big beers...kinda like with Coke and Pepsi). Thing is, most BAs don't find any room for subtle beers in their drinking lives...much less during their big beer tastings -- I, for one, have yet to see the IRS tasting thread that includes a subtle style/beer as part of the lineup.
  31. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    At this point I kinda know your MO and have a good amount of respect for it. I will definitely agree that many people do not make room for subtly in there everyday drinking. This certainly impacts the perception of many beers. With that said, even if we think people should make the room for subtle beers, taste is a personal choice and I have to respect the individuals choice.

    You bring up an interesting point with the RIS tastings and a subtle example of the style. I love Sammy Smiths Imperial Stout but I just do not believe it would fit in with most tastings. I believe this is more about the intention of the tastings more than anything. If the tasting were to be a showcase of the style, which displayed breadth and depth of the style the beers chosen would be drastically different. Most tastings are done for an excuse to open big bottles and have fun.

    I am not sure it matter the forum, society in general seems to gravitate towards the bold, intense and flashy. The centerist out there are certainly a minority. I strongly believe a more balances approach is beneficial but who am I to say others opinions are wrong?
  32. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Respekt (as the Germans say) to you from my end as well. I guess all I'm saying is that Coke can be as good as, if not better than, Pepsi...if you give it a shot. And it can also taste great ice cold! Prost!
    kzoobrew likes this.
  33. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    when i am ticking even 1 drink is enough, but if i sit down and review a beer it has to be AT LEASt 5 oz and not at a festival.
  34. t8000shx

    t8000shx Disciple (321) Mar 2, 2004 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    What happened to nickd? Did he get banned for something and I just missed it?
  35. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Devotee (490) Jan 2, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    I think the reason Pepsi continues to lose market share year after year to Coke is because no one appreciated the fake Pepsi challenge. Anyone who drinks soda could tell you Coke is Kate the Great and Pepsi is Corona.

    Back to the topic... I prefer to review beer over a full serving. Some beers, especially quads are great at first but grow sweeter and harder to drink.
  36. genuinedisciple

    genuinedisciple Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2010 Michigan

    This post and herrburgess led me to think up this:


    If you want people to experience different styles/types of tastings, let them know about it and maybe they will.
  37. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    To me, beer is about more about drinking - not so much about tasting - meaning if I can't finish a pint of it or after finishing a pint, I'm looking for something else, well its not all that good to me.
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