How to harmonize each beer-drinking experience

By Esther Mendel - 15 November 2022

Both as old as time, beer and music are a big part of lots of people’s lives. Though they might seem very different, they can really influence each other in various ways. The influence of music and beer sparked my interest when I came across an article on music's influences on how much we like the flavor of a beer. Though I never experienced this effect, I am aware that lots of bars are very specific about the music they play, and some beers are even provided with a matching playlist. When looking into this a bit more, a world of studies on this topic opened up to me. To save you some time on research I have done this for you and I will also try to give my recommendations for the best beer-music experience, which also functions as a tltr (‘too long to read’-summary). 

The influence of music on beer drinking rates and amounts 

Firstly, let’s have a look at the effect of the volume of music on beer consumption behaviors. A study by Guéguen et al. (2008), studied whether the subjects would drink different amounts of beer with a normal music volume vs. a high volume. This study noticed the effect of higher and faster consumption of beers with a louder volume. A similar study by Drews DR (1992) noticed this effect when comparing no to normal levels of volume. The given hypothesis for this effect is that the higher sound level creates a high level of arousal, which leads to an increased focus on the beer, which causes people to consume more of it at a faster rate. Besides that, another study by Forsyth and Cloonan (2008) found the same effect and theorized that this effect is also to blame on the beer drinkers being prevented from having any kind of conversation. 

The funny thing is that I personally have noticed this effect working the other way around. When I have a bar shift and notice that more beers are ordered and people are getting more drunk than usual, I have much more often gotten the question to turn up the speakers. Sadly, we often have to disappoint the person asking, as our speakers have got a very strict limiter on our sound system. If you want to know why be sure to read the article of Floor from the board! 


Let’s continue with the tempo and types of music. It was found that not only a high volume but also a high tempo might cause drinkers to increase the speed of their alcohol consumption (McElrea and Standing, 1992).However, on this, the effect is less clear, as there is also a study that shows that slower tempo (of country-western music) also increased beer consumption. The authors theorized that this was due to a mood switch that caused them to drink more. This refers to the effect that a negative mood tends to increase beer consumption (Demmel, R., & Nicolai, J.; 2009).  

However, I would like to theorize that Intermate members are not as sensitive to this effect mentioned in Demmel and Nicolai’s (2019) study. In my experience, the main period for members to be in a ‘negative’ mood is the exam weeks. The good news is that I have noticed that consumptions are not much higher than usual in this period. We usually notice that attendance is lower and even fewer people tend to really get drunk. Apparently, the will to pass our exam still beats the pressure of our emotions to drink more. However, I have no experience with how fast members drink their beer during exam weeks, so you will just have to see that for yourself. So to save the livers of the students, it might be a good idea to not turn up some sad western songs during the exam weeks. Lastly, a variation is the actual songs chosen. In an experiment by Jacob, C. (2006), the effect of an increase in time and money spent at the bar was noticed when drinking songs such as drunken sailor were blasted over the speakers, in comparison to ‘top 40’ songs. Luckily, it is very rare that ‘normal’ top 40 songs are played during drinks at the Internaat. 

The influence of music on beer tasting experience 

To start with simply the presence of music, an effect is already noticed on how beer is experienced. According to Reinoso Carvalho, F. et al. (2016), beer-tasting experiences were rated more enjoyable with music than in silence. This relates to the general theory that multisensory information improves the experience of food or drinks (Spence, C., & Deroy, O., 2013), such as the shape of the beer bottle or the colors on the label. Note to self: maybe this is also a good reason for me, as a label-peeler, to not always peel the label off my beer bottle, as it actually might distract from my beer-tasting experience. 

Besides that, the mood of the music not only affects drinking rates but also affects what parts of the flavor profile are noticed more prominently. In a study by Reinoso-Carvalho et al. (2019), participants rated beer to be sweeter when listening to positive music (high-pitch, up-tempo), whereas the same beer was rated more bitter, with higher alcohol content, and as having more body when the participant listened to more negative music (low-pitch, low tempo). Besides that, they were willing to pay 7 to 8 percent more for the same beer when listening to positive music. The good news for us is that we can’t see the prices of the beers at the Internaat anyways, so overpaying due to the music at the drink will not be a problem, though overpaying due to simply not knowing the price is an issue that does arise at the drinks now and again. The upside is that Pintermate beers are actually not often much more expensive than 2,50 and taste just as good as all the fancy beers in the fridges! 

A bit of advice on the perfect beer-music experience 

To give some advice on how to have the perfect beer-music experience, I will split this advice into three (in my opinion) good scenarios: 

(Preparing for) A night out 

Of course, drinking responsibly is very important. However, for a fun night out, it is always nice to be a little tipsy and feel loose enough to dance all your favorite moves. One of the biggest dangers with going out is that not everyone is on the same level in terms of mood and tipsiness. To make sure the mood is enhanced with some wonderful beer consumptions, it might be a good idea to turn up the volume and make sure the music is up-tempo. Not only does this ‘arouse’ everyone, but it also makes sure you keep up a good tempo of drinking. As most students do not drink very fancy beers before going out, it is not necessary to change the music to heighten the tasting experience. 

A chill drink with friends/that special someone ? 

When going for a chill night, it is a good idea that the beer only works as a catalyzer for a nice conversation and a good mood. If the tempo is too high, your friends might think you have some different intentions for the night, and before you know it you are at the Kix to turn the wheel ‘only once’. Though this is fun, it is also nice to sometimes keep things chill. Therefore, do not set the music too loud and keep the music mellow (though not too sad). Especially when the guest who is joining you is someone you might have your eye on, it is nice to keep the music positive. This makes the beers taste sweeter and therefore also keeps the mood sweet and romantic. 

Tasting an amazing Pintermate beer 

Though the wonderful beers we brew for you are already wonderful without any musical enhancement, you can always heighten the experience of the beer with some music. Though some beers from other breweries even provide a playlist recommendation on their bottle, we like to keep this decision up to the BorrelCie. In case you do want to get extra in the mood for the beer, it is nice to play some music from the artist some of our beers are named after, such as Froukje or Dolly Parton. Besides that, try pairing the hoppy and the darker beers such as the stouts with some slow-tempo songs such as a ballad or country music. For the lighter and fruitier beers, the flavors will come out best when listening to happy, high-pitched songs such as pop and hip-hop. If you are uncertain what the beer is going to be like, the best in-between genres are reggae and soul. 

Hope you learned a bit more about music and beers. See you soon at the drink where Pintermate will present their newest beer! 



Guéguen, N., Jacob, C., Le Guellec, H., Morineau, T., & Lourel, M. (2008). Sound level of environmental music and drinking behavior: A field experiment with Beer Drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32(10), 1795–1798.  

Drews DR, Vaughn DB, Anfiteatro A (1992) Beer consumption as a function of music and the presence of others. J Pa Acad Sci 65:134–136 

Forsyth, A., & Cloonan, M. (2008). Alco‐Pop? the use of popular music in Glasgow Pubs. Popular Music and Society, 31(1), 57–78.  

McElrea, H., & Standing, L. (1992). Fast music causes fast drinking. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 75(2), 362–362.  

Demmel, R., & Nicolai, J. (2009). Beer and current Mood State. Beer in Health and Disease Prevention, 177–180.  

Jacob, C. (2006). Styles of background music and consumption in a bar: An empirical evaluation. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 25(4), 716–720.  

Reinoso Carvalho, F., Velasco, C., van Ee, R., Leboeuf, Y., & Spence, C. (2016). Music influences hedonic and taste ratings in beer. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.  

Spence, C., & Deroy, O. (2013). On why music changes what (we think) we taste. i-Perception, 4(2), 137–140.  

Reinoso-Carvalho, F., Dakduk, S., Wagemans, J., Spence, C. (2019). Not just another pint! the role of emotion induced by music on the consumer’s tasting experience. Auditory Contributions to Food Perception and Consumer Behaviour, 107–140.  


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