Monday 4 May 2009

Triangle test

On Saturday I carried out a carefully controlled scientific test. Well, almost.

My friend Sarah ran the London marathon last Sunday and got given a goody bag containing a can of Fuller's London Pride at the end. Being a non-beer drinker she kindly passed it on to me. Being a beer nerd I normally don't drink cans but I'm not going to turn my nose up at free beer. 

It did occur to me though that rather than just guzzling it I could use it to do some scientific research. As Fuller's also do a bottled version of London Pride, and at 4.7% it's the same strength as the beer in the can, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see exactly what canning does to beer. So I decided to do a taste test with bottled and canned pride. 

When I was at Heriot-Watt there were regular beer tasting to compare different batches of beer. The method used was the triangle test. Rather than just compare the beers side by side you would be give three samples of beer, two from one batch and one from the other. You then had to spot the odd one out.

I poured out two shots of bottled pride and one of canned. There was a difference in the carbonation level so I had to wait a while until the fizz had died down. Then I gave them to the lovely Lisa to taste. She spotted straight away the odd one out, so clearly the beers do taste different. Slightly oddly though she thought the canned beer was the bottled. When I tried the samples I had to agree that the bottled beer did taste more metallic. 

Now admittedly we had had a few by the time we got round to doing the triangle test, which is not ideal for taste testing. But we both agreed on this unexpected finding. I can only conclude that, as is so often the case with beer, more research is necessary. 

My brain was a bit fuzzy by this point too


  1. Interesting findings. I've been planning a bottle vs. can vs. cask for a while now and Pride was going to be my beer of choice.

  2. I'm going to have to look more into cans vs bottles of pride, but as the cask version is a weaker beer I don't think it would be a fair comparison to include that as well.

  3. Fuller's get their beers canned under licence by Diageo. In return Fuller's bottle some of diageo's brands at Fuller's new Griffin bottling facility.

    Cool experiment though. I think good beer is still good beer regardless of packaging though.