Friday, 4 December 2015

The Science of Drinkability

Well a bit of the science anyway. I've managed a quick perusal of the archives on drinkability and was impressed to see that there was a symposium on it in 2006. And even better The Brewers' Guardian did a write up of the proceedings.

First I was very surprised to see that the term ‘drinkability’ seems to have been coined by a Brazilian PhD student, Rubens Mattos, as recently as 2004. Apparently it caused a lot of excitement in the brewing industry and lead to the symposium. In the introduction to Mattos's paper on drinkability he said: 
“a beer that has good drinkability is one that invites the drinker to another glass.”
  He was at the symposium in 2006 where he defined drinkability as:
“a measure of how enjoyable and attractive a beer is in order to be consumed in large quantities”.
The large quantities part is important, and many a beer nerds seems to confuse ‘drinkability’ with enjoyability, and consider any beer they like to be drinkable. Mattos considers drinkability to be:
“ a characteristic that prevents consumers from being satiated even when large volumes have been consumed.”
In more detail (he was doing a PhD after all) Mattos considers drinkability to be composed of four factors: sensory and cognitive effects, and post-ingestive and post-absorptive responses.

The next up at the symposium was, David Thompson, who spoke on the psychology of drinking. He equated drinkability with sessionability (it would seem the term ‘sessionability’ was in use already). Sessionability was defined as:
 “asking the barman, ‘same again, please’”
Again, the consumption of volume is clearly important so those of you that say Imperial Russian Stouts have great drinkability, or that you can session Double IPAs, you're wrong.

Keith Greenhoff from a market research company also equated drinkability with sessionability when he spoke and his definition was:
“an absence of characteristics limiting consumption in volume, making it easy to drink.”
These characteristics included high carbonation, increasing bitterness and excessive sweetness. A definite point there for those that say cask beer has the greatest drinkability, with high carbonation being a negative factor. 

A more positive drinkability definition was given by another student Katrin Mathmann as:
“drinkability means the drink agrees with the consumer and encourages the consumer to keep on drinking.”
There's perhaps not a dictionary definition from the symposium. But I think the key points are covered, and it's clear that serving beer as god intented, without extraneous carbon dioxide, gives the best drinkability.



  1. I personally equate drinkability with "moreish". Yesterday, for instance, I drank a half litre bottle of a 17° plato DIPA, after finishing it, my only regret was not having another bottle right away because I would have loved to drink it. That sensation is, to me, the definition of drinkability--wanting to have another round of the same

  2. That does fit in with how some of the people defined it, but others were definitely keen to include volume as well.

  3. John Kimmich has some interesting views on drinkability...

  4. Hmmm...either that's maximum drinkability is beer straight from the can or on draught in 'Spoons.

  5. Replies
    1. Good work! I thought 2004 sounded too recent.