Does Dye in Your Beer Affect Flavour? The Green Beer Experiment
We were at the office having a discussion about St. Paddy’s Day, when someone announced, “green beer is awful, it tastes like CRAP!”. So we asked the important question…does it really?!?!
By Dustin Miller on Mar. 17, 2017
We devised an impromptu (and informal) experiment to test if we could determine if a beer was dyed or not; here is our experiment and this is what we found…
- 4 beers of various styles
- 8 JustBeer participants/employees (of various beer expertise)
- 1 blindfold
- Green dye (food colouring)
We wanted to make sure this experiment was SUPER sound, so we tested various styles of beer (some local, some craft, one macro, etc). The beers we used for this specific experiment were: Pabst Blue Ribbon (a standard, macro-brewed adjunct lager), Novo Brazil Brewing Co. Chula Pils (a German-style pilsener), Banded Peak’s Summit Seaker IPA, and Blindman’s Kettle Sour #1.
Green Beer Experiment Setup
We setup the four beers in a row, each beer paired: one dyed, one undyed for a total of 8 samples. Next, we blindfolded each participant and gave them a sample of the beer (dyed and not). After the participant sampled the two beers, we asked them which one was the green one. We recorded answers and then continued to the next beer.
Outcome & Results
Each participant was asked, “Which of the two samples you just tasted was the dyed version?” Some got it right, some got it wrong…
Green Beer Guessing Results
- It turns out the girls were able to guess the dyed beer more accurately than the guys (we assume it’s because they cheated and peeked).
- The guys guessed correctly/incorrectly 50/50 (which is basically random chance average).
- The dyed sour beer was guessed correctly 87% (7/8) of the time.
For the most part, from our group of 8 people, the likelihood that a dyed beer could be determined solely by its flavour was low…unless it was the Blindman Kettle Sour which seemed to be easier to guess (perhaps the acidity affected the dye and did in fact affect the flavour, but who knows–we’re not really scientists after all).
We asked participants who guessed the dyed beer correctly, how they knew it was dyed and they said they noticed a difference in texture or carbonation, but it was less to do with the actual flavour of the beer (although some may argue mouthfeel and carbonation are both components of flavour).
In conclusion, we feel if you have a really sharp palate you might notice the subtle difference in mouthfeel between a green/dyed beer and a regular beer. However, we’re also pretty sure if you put a bit of green dye in your beer this St. Paddy’s, you’re probably not going to destroy your beer. There’s also a good chance you’re going to have more fun (because fun people like doing festive things, like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day). Our only caveat to the food dye and beer thing is if you plan on drinking green beer and you’re a stickler for flavour, maybe stay away from green sour beers.
Green Dye and Your Health – Is Food Colouring Safe?
After we shared this article, we had a few people comment about green dye being bad for your health. We dug around the web and found arguments for and against this, but none actively lead to a universal, “this is fact” answer. One article from foxnews.com implied that green dye and beer was bad for your liver, but they were referring to binge drinking specifically (no surprise here), not the dye itself. Their conclusion was still that it was safe for consumption in moderation.
If you want to air on the side of caution, but you still want a green beer, there are natural options available (vegan friendly too). You can opt for green dyes like Squid Ink, Matcha Green Tea, and Chlorophyll; though we’re 100% sure the latter of those three will affect the flavour of your beer.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day Friends!
Feelin’ Lucky??! Read more about St. Patrick’s Day on JustBeer:
- Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day?
- How to Make Green Beer for St. Patrick’s Day
- MEME: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Beer Types: Ales, Lagers, Hybrids and Others
You might think the differences between ales and lagers has to do with color or flavour…but for the most part, you’d be wrong. Find out more…
Does Oyster Stout Have Real Oysters?
Wondering, like I did, whether Oyster Stout has actual oysters in the recipe or it’s just a name, here’s the answer.
How To Describe Beer Like a Pro
This article is a quick and easy reference to the words you need for describing beer to your friends. Now you’ll never be at a loss for words and always be part of the beer discussion.
Top 10 Wine Producing Countries
Wine is ubiquitously loved across the whole world. However, have you ever wondered which countries on the globe produce the most wine? Do the vineyards of the U.S.A come out victorious, or does Chile challenge them to the top? We’ve identified the top wine producing countries in the world and there might be a few results that may surprise you.