Wednesday 14 September 2016

Synesthesia and the Beer Spectrum

I have a condition called synesthesia. That means that my senses are more or less linked to each other in my mind. Different people get it differently. For me, it is mostly sounds, smells and tastes that get "translated" to shapes and colours in my mind. I can say that a scented soap "looks purple, but smells yellow", and that makes perfect sense to me. The smell gives me a mental image of "yellow".

I like beer, and trying out different kinds of beer. Beer tastes multicoloured. Almost all beer has a dark red to orange flavour from the kinds of malt used, yellow-green tones from hops (Cascade is intensely lemon yellow!) Some dark beers taste more brown than others. The best pilsners have a very pleasant, golden orange taste of fresh bread. Wheat beers and sour beers can even have blue tones, but bright blue usually means strong carbonation.

The idea of a beer spectrum came into my mind when my SO and I had a conversation over a beer in a local pub. "This stout has a more even spectrum than the Guinness. Guinness has a peak in the red part and the top green part, while this one has more orange" My SO gave me a strange look. He obviously didn't have this kind of mental image of beer. Now, he usually asks me for a spectrum when we try a new beer.

Beer Spectrum: Guinness
Beer Spectrum: Clausthaler Wheat
Clausthaler Wheat
Beer Spectrum: Staropramen
Beer Spectrum: Mack Bayer
Mack Bayer

After a beer or two, the mental image becomes more pronounced. It tends to fade from my mind and get harder to recall afterwards, so in order to build up a collection of images, I should draw them while actually drinking the beer. The images above are easy to remember, because they represent favourite beers which I often drink.

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