Sunday, 12 February 2012

Consistency versus expectation - a self damaging dichotomy

Now then
         whilst recently reading up on blogs on tinterweb and on dear old Blogger I noted one from Rob at Robs Beer Quest (see : Its Rob at Robs Beer Quest, and everything ) which contained his musings on why beer he himself had reviewed tasted different, indeed so different, and was rated different, on separate occasions.

Being a brewer he concentrates on many different technical issues, but also, an interesting psychological slant. Which immediately made me think about the brain trick of Expectation.

The Brain trick of expectation...

How often, I wonder, do I say in a post "not how I remembered it" or "not what I was anticipating", or "I was expecting a...(but)". It seems on this basis and the evidence on the  RBQ blog that our dear old friend expectation is at work and at large in the beer blogging world.

Because you can't help but expect a beer to taste like it did last time. That, is a normal reaction.

And any number of different factors can come into play that mean that your expectationn isn't met. Ultimately Rob is interested in why he reaches different conclusions on the same product but at different times, and his conclusion is conciliatory, steering one away from worrying about how your brain and tastebuds combine to reach different conclusions at different times. Conversely however, my thinking is concerned with the extent to which what you expect taints your beer assessing experience, based precisely on the riddle of how your brain and tastebuds combine to reach different conclusions at different times..
 I don't think its just me that expects a particular taste experience or level of pleasure from a certain beer each time I encounter it. I think its a universal facet of drinking experiencing that taste alone is only one of many influences. In fact, I like that expectation trips me up by creating a muddling sensation of seemingly knowing something will be good, but then messing with my mind by using that same illusion to tell me that something which does taste good doesn't!

So does this mean its impossible to be a sentient being and review the same beer twice?

No. Its just means you can't expect to write the same review twice. See. Expectations are at work again folks...


Not the beer style, but our feline companion of 13 years who looked like a baby bear as a kitten, and was the colour of a Belgian Brown ale, hence his name, and who departed the earth today. This dedication is completely separate from notions of expectation, and entirely in respect of the fact that there will no longer be a faithful consort sat at my side whilst I write these posts.

Wee Beefy.

No comments:

Post a Comment