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Fluid Flow in the Mouth as a Measurable Aspect of Drinkability
Mathmann, K., Kowalczyk, W., Delgado, A.

According to relevant definitions in literature, drinkability can be divided into a conscious part regarding measurable beer attributes and a subconscious part which contains both social and psychological factors. The fluid flow of beer in the mouth and the resulting mouthfeel can be considered as being an aspect of the conscious and therefore measurable attributes. For this reason, the current study deals with the improving our understanding of the intra-oral fluid flow, visualized by means of numerical simulations and with the resulting sensory sensations which occur during the process of drinking. The aim of the study is to develop a hybrid tool which offers the opportunity to describe and predict mouthfeel only by virtue of the rheological characteristics of beverages and liquid foods. Currently, the topic of drinkability is under vigorous discussion. The common definition "suitable and safe for drinking" which can be found in some publications is meaningless compared with the manifold attempts of defining the term in the relevant literature. According to Mattos and Moretti [1], drinkability can be understood as a consumer acceptance indicator. A beer is drinkable in the case that the consumer feels throughout comfortable both with its quality and image and with the consumption environment. From this point of view, drinkability is more an affective attribute than a descriptive one. One important question which has to be answered is whether drinkability is a real beverage characteristic with a meaningful construct behind the expression. Thomson and Bailey [2] posed the question as to whether or not drinkability might be a temporary fashion established by the beverage industry. These authors suggest the hypotheses that drinkability could manifest itself as both sessionability and repeatability. Taking into account Mattos and Moretti's definition [1], this means that the consumer appreciates the beer including all related attributes of drinkability and feels invited to drink another glass within the same or in the next session of drinking for this reason. The current importance of the topic was emphasised by the holding of an EBC Symposium dealing with drinkability in Edinburgh in 2006 [2, 3, 4, 5]. Delegates with completely different backgrounds (for example brewing technology, marketing, and psychology) discussed the term of drinkability considering several aspects in breakout sessions in order to come closer to a general definition. All groups highlighted the importance of beer attributes but also the more subconscious impacts on the individual drinking behaviour arising due to marketing or social aspects like brand aura, presentation, atmosphere, environment or cultural background. It seems sensible to consider that the impression of drinkability could be understood as a combination of multilayered single attributes. According to Mattos [3], drinkability is subject of the so-called gestalt psychology for this reason. This means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts or in other words that the collective term "drinkability" has priority over its single attributes. Actually, there is no widely accepted scientific method which enables the brewer to evaluate the drinkability of beer as there are no references for high and low drinkability at the moment. For this reason, analyzing drinkability by means of measurable parameters will be an important milestone, keeping in mind that it must be understood being aware of each single aspect. Brewing technologists are able to influence these measurable factors actively in order to improve drinkability, meaning the chemical and physical beer attributes which can also act as objective references. These attributes arise from the ingredients and the technology as well as the automation strategy of the process and yield a specific taste and odour of the beer. Davies [4] states that these sensory attributes are perceived consciously and that a drinkable beer must have certain desirable attributes the consumer recognizes during drinking. Flavour perception takes place by means of the complex human sensory system including the optic, gustatory, olfactory and haptic perception. Nevertheless, most studies deal with aroma components exclusively. Texture and therewith the resulting mouthfeel were underestimated for a long time, although Meilgaard and Muller [6] included the term of mouthfeel in their flavour wheel as an aspect of taste impression in 1987.

Descriptors: drinkability, fluid mechanics, numerical simulations, descriptive sensory evaluations, haptic perception, hybrid cognitive methods

BrewingScience - Monatsschrift fr Brauwissenschaft, 60 (July/August 2007), pp. 90-95