Understanding the sensual process of beer

Turning 21 last Friday made me realize that I am now actually legal to drink alcohol. Many college students before or at this age go to parties every Saturday night to get drunk. But, for me, before I even have my first drink, I should understand the best type of drink to have by observing through the senses what I prefer to drink at a party.

Russell Edwards, an anthropologist who wrote, “Carefully Crafted Consumption: Understanding the Craft Beer Revolution,” did an ethnographic research of how the senses and the type of bottle it came in determined a person’s choice of an alcoholic drink.

In his article, he references another anthropologist, Daniel Lende, who used a framework of “sensorial, corporal, experiential, decision engaging, social, and meaningful” (Edwards 2014) to describe the motive behind the idea of consumption. Many craft brewers want to bring an engagement with the senses, making the beer more flavorful. Smell travels to three systems: olfactory, gustatory, and trigeminal. All the senses are processed by the orbitofrontal cortex and tell the brain the flavor of the beer.

After conducting an experiment in which 8 college students drank 4 different beers in different types of glass and what they prefer, making craft beer is a hard business and craft brewers often like to collaborate with each other. By the end of the day, it is important for them to transport the taster to a special time and place.

Before tasting a type of beer, there is a process, observing through the senses the best type of drink to have and that there are preferences to what people in society like.