The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Can science dictate your beer choices?

Heineken has joined forces with geneticist Andrew Shelling to develop a taste kit that allows beer enthusiasts to understand the science behind their flavour preferences.

Hundreds of ‘taste kits’ have been released for the public to determine which beer is best suited to their taste buds.

Labelled ‘The Heineken Choice’, the taste kits are free and available in select bars in Auckland.

The launch of the new genetic test kits coincides with the launch of Heineken Silver, a new product designed to specifically appeal to a new generation of beer drinkers that prefer easy-drinking, smooth, low-carb beer.

The lager is brewed at a chilled -1°C, resulting in a less bitter taste and a crisp, smooth and subtle finish.

The Heineken Choice taste kits detect testers’ sensitivity to bitterness using a PTC test.

PTC tests are made using a bitter compound called phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) and can determine if a person is a “supertaster”, “taster”, “non-taster”, or somewhere in between.

All users have to do is place the PTC strip on their tongue. Those who can detect the taste of bitterness will likely prefer Heineken Silver, whereas those who taste nothing may prefer the profile of Heineken Original.

“We are genetically hardwired to detect bitterness,” says Shelling. “It is written in our DNA and has evolved to be like that over millions of years for our survival from potentially toxic and poisonous foods.

“Some of us are born to detect strong bitter flavours more strongly than others. Those who are more sensitive to bitterness are likely to make food and drink choices to avoid the taste. However, as we age, our bitter taste sensitivity also changes.”

Supertasters are those who are more likely to detect bitterness in food and drink and make up roughly 25% of the general population. These tasters are likely to avoid foods such as broccoli, spinach, coffee, and dark chocolate.

The Heineken Choice test kits are available at the following Auckland venues:

  • Garrisons Public House
  • The Lula Inn
  • Coops Corner Pub
  • Basalt
  • The Merchant
  • Moretons Bar & Restaurant

How to catch up with The Shout NZ

Online, updated daily with its own unique content and breaking news.
Our weekly newsletter – free to your inbox! Subscribe here.
We are also on Facebook and Instagram!