Irish Beer Does Not Travel Well

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(Credit: Jon Sullivan)

"Guinness does not travel well" has long been voiced by beer drinkers worldwide, and now a new scientific study suggests that this famous Irish stout loses much of its appearance, mouthfeel, flavor and aftertaste after being exported to countries outside of Ireland.

"This study is the first to provide scientific evidence that Guinness does not travel well and that the enjoyment of Guinness (for our group of nonexpert tasters) was higher when in Ireland," write Daniel Kotz and colleagues in their Journal of Food Science paper.

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Kotz, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Maastricht University Medical Center, led the study, which involved a total of 4 researchers from 4 different countries of origin traveling around the world for 12 months collecting "data on the enjoyment of Guinness and related factors."

The scientists recorded 103 tastings— 42 in Ireland, 61 elsewhere. These were in 71 different pubs spread over 33 cities and 14 countries.

According to a report in the Irish Times, each of the four researchers tackled their assignments with the same instruments: a thermometer, a ruler (to measure head depth), a stopwatch (to measure pouring and drinking time) and a standardized checklist for rating various quality indicators. The researchers volunteered their time, carrying out the fieldwork in conjunction with their other tasks and travels over the study period.

In the end, everything came down to a 1 to 100 rating, with 100 being the best possible. The final score?

Ireland- 74

Everyplace else- 57

Ireland wins.

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The researchers considered a "conspiracy theory," that "the finest quality (Guinness) is given to its own employees, the second best is sold to the people of Ireland, and the worst is exported," but they suggest freshness, or lack thereof, could explain the tasting differences.

The scientists indicate further fieldwork is needed to verify the results of this particular study, so many St. Patrick's Day celebrants today may be unofficially contributing to the findings.