Just the other day, I visited Tonari No Mise for some delightful Japanese inspired desserts to take away. Yes, they reminded me of my homeland. No, they don't serve beer. Yes, my #beerpairedlife sometimes takes me to beautiful little corner shoppes like this one. Yes, we don't always have to drink beers to engage in beer study - especially when we apply basic procedures of the scientific method.
Let me explain.
The scientific method helps us acquire knowledge, and it consists of the following 6 basic steps. With or without a glass of craft beer in my hand, I could "sharpen the saw" as a Cicerone® whenever and wherever.
1. Make an observation
Let's use a beer and food pairing as an example, which could begin with describing either beer or food. Because I was already at the shoppe for some sweets, I began with describing the yuzu & elderflower ice cream. Yuzu is a flagrant citrus fruit with distinct tartness. Elderflower adds undertone of lemon, orange, grass, and rose-like notes. Yuzu accentuates floral and grassy notes and resonate with lemony and orangy notes of elderflower. Lactic creaminess of ice cream softens the pungency of yuzu while harmonizing with tart, floral, and somewhat savory characteristics of yuzu and elderflower.
2. Ask a question
Yes, the ice cream is wonderful as is and I was absolutely delighted just how perfectly all the flavours mingled with each other. So what aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel could be introduced by beer to elevate the experience? In other words, "Which beer should I pair with the dish?"
3. Propose a hypothesis
A hypothesis is a possible answer to the above question based on our research and existing knowledge. Perhaps I could pair it with an equally #localbeer like Lloyd's 3 O'Clock Kolsch from Steel Bender Brewyard that could bring resonating lemon notes for the yuzu and harmonizing herbal character for the elderflower.
4. Make predictions
Predictions are conditional "if-then" statements of our expectation if our proposed hypothesis is correct. In this case, it could be something like "If the yuzu and elderflower ice cream is enjoyed with Lloyd's 3 O'Clock Kolsch, then the yuzu in the ice cream would resonate with lemony hop characteristics of the beer while the grassy and rose-life floral notes of the elderflower in the ice cream would harmonize with the herbal hop characteristics of the beer. The carbonation of the beer cleanses the palate so I'd enjoy the entire cup of the ice cream without experiencing taste fatigue."
5. Test the predictions
Now that I engaged in mindful eating and thought experimentations, it's time to engage in experiential learning by actually pairing the ice cream and the beer. If they paired well, then my hypothesis is supported (it's likely I was right). If they didn't, then my hypothesis isn't supported (it's likely I was wrong). There's no 100% proof either way with science.
Science is iterative, and the last step is to analyze the results, reflect on them, and guide our future steps. What could I change about the ice cream to elevate the existing pairing? What other beers could pair well with the same ice cream? What other dishes could pair well with the same beer? Go back to Step 2, and our quest for beer knowledge continues.
And that's how I do science.