Beer Goggles: Innis & Gunn serves Virtual Reality to change the taste of beer

 

Thought you knew about beer? Think again. Today, independent Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn, is unveiling its most innovative product yet – Immersive & Gunn – two Virtual Reality experiences that will change the way drinkers taste and enjoy their favourite beer.

Customers who order the brewer’s Original or Lager at participating bars, will now also be served a Virtual Reality headset that will transport them to the landscapes inspired by the flavour profiles of the two brews. Through immersing the drinker in this world, and igniting the additional sight and sound senses, the taste of the beers will be heightened and a whole new realm of beer drinking unlocked.

Virtual Reality has been used in the past to enhance the taste of food and now the beer industry will also have a shake-up, as Innis & Gunn rolls out the new VR experience at The Beer Kitchen in Edinburgh and Dundee from Thursday 11th August.  Further roll-out in the next couple of weeks will be taking the VR experience to beer drinkers in London at the Brewhouse Highbury and Brewhouse Islington, and in Glasgow’s Tabac.  Drinkers will be served their pint, alongside a VR headset and a beer mat explaining exactly what to do and why.

Changing taste & minds

Each piece of VR content has been created using inspiration from the beer and gives a nod towards the brewer’s innovative brewing process and Scottish origins. The result is two different pieces of content, each which complement and bring to life the beers in a whole new way.

The brewer has collaborated with cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Jacob Jolij, an expert on how our brain creates experiences, who explains how VR impacts taste perception:

“A taste experience is not just a matter of chemistry and biology. Whenever you take a sip of your favourite beer you do not just taste the water, the grains, and the hops, but your brain adds in your previous memories, surroundings, and expectations.

“Immersing the drinker in this virtual reality world created by Innis & Gunn, is a very powerful way of enhancing the taste experience. It will change the way your brain processes and interprets the signals coming from your taste buds, drawing on personal memories of sight and sound to create a unique experience of the beer for every drinker.”

Innis & Gunn has created each piece of VR to bring to life the two different brews in entirely different ways:

Original

Virtual reality film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPKfB2iIT0A

Dr Jolij explains,

“The Virtual Reality for Original brings to life the flavor profile and ‘mouth feel’ of the brew. The dense forestry connects the brain with the oak-aged tones within the beer before transitioning to a sunset which shifts the focus to its sweetness, creating a dynamic, multisensory experience”

“This, combined with the openness of the cliff top and lapping waters, forces the mind to focus on the smoothness of the pint and make the drink appear all the more softer. In this film, the drinker also watches time move beneath their feet, which harks back to the maturation process that makes this beer so distinct in its taste.” 

Lager

Virtual reality video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiBz9iZFR7E

Dr Jolij expands on this:

“The Innis & Gunn Lager Virtual Reality works differently. Instead of enhancing the flavours within the beer, the wide water landscapes that the drinker sees, combined with the pace of the film, trigger the brain to focus on its refreshment characteristics. This then causes the brain to reinterpret signals from the mouth, telling the drinker that the pint tastes even smoother and more thirst quenching, than they first thought.”

Dougal Gunn Sharp, Master Brewer and Founder at Innis & Gunn said:

“This year we’ve seen Virtual Reality amusement parks, house viewings and food tastings so we were fascinated to explore how this incredible technology would impact our beers. We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of the beer industry and Immersive & Gunn allows us to play with the ways that different senses impact taste.

“I’m excited to see how drinkers react when they’re thrust into dense woods and scale tall cliffs. By accessing the wilderness of Scotland we’re playing with the way people consume our beers, when we are no longer confined to the physical space we occupy, the possibilities for innovation are endless.”