Taste Profiling

“Understanding the taste profile of your beers, and the competitive beers in your market, in a quantitative and reproducible manner is essential for managing your liquid portfolio effectively.”

The First Key system is based on the liquid ratings provided by Certified Beer Taste Evaluators using our quantitative rating forms. The rating forms can be customized to include characteristics unique to your market as well as the more broadly based characteristics now covered by the form. First Key will also provide training on the use of the rating forms and on the presentation and interpretation of the results.

The core of the system is the method of documenting the tasters’ description of the liquids being rated. Rather than using a non-metric prose description, the rating document uses a nine-point scale to record the taster’s evaluationin a quantitative fashion. The rating document, which is completed for each liquid by each of the raters, covers a comprehensive list of the descriptive product characteristics that are necessary to provide a complete assessment of the liquid. To ensure uniform use of the scale by different raters, each scale has a descriptive word at each end of the scale and also at some of the mid scale points.
Provision is also made for recording the rater’s evaluation for those characteristics that can only be described by a “present/absent” response rather than an intensity response. As well, a “Comments” section is available for a prose response for each of the main areas of Visual, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel, Aftertaste, Balance/Harmony and an Overall Impression.

The results of a rating session are reported using several levels of analysis.

Tabular Data

The scalar values for each taste characteristic are report both in aggregate and for each of the raters using both tables and graphic representations.

Perceptual Maps

The scalar values for all the brands are used as input for a visual summery using a Biplot Map. These are provided for both the aggregate data and the data from the individual raters.

Comment Summary

The prose comments are summarized in a text format.

Advantages to this approach:

Because the system produces metrical ratings, rather than prose comments, and utilizes a structured recording document, there are several advantages to this approach:

  • The session output is more complete since each of the rating characteristics must have a rating response.
  • The session output is more precise since the raters’ assessments use a single position on a nine-point scale, rather than dealing with less-specific adjectives to describe intensity, etc. As well, the adjectives may also be used in an inconsistent manner by different raters.
  • Data can be cumulated across several sessions and used to detect subtle trends in product characteristics since bar charts, trend analyses, etc. are possible.
  • The system will be more able to identify inconsistencies within a group of raters.
  • The system provides an excellent training vehicle for developing new raters within an organization.
  • The system can be used to compare ratings on a plant-to-plant, industry-wide and country-wide basis.

Additional Benefits:

The mapping facility, permitted by the quantitative nature of the output, provides additional benefits.

  • The visual comparisons provided by a map is an effective, and easily understood, summary of the differences and the similarities within the group of liquids shown.
  • The major competitive brands in a market can be evaluated less frequently and then be included into all subsequent maps that are developed from the ratings of a group of smaller or specialty brands.
  • Global brands from a series of countries can form the basis of a single map to understand if the desired consistency of liquid characteristics is being maintained.
  • Understanding product differences via mapping leads easily to discussions of how to best manage a brewer’s portfolio of liquids in a given market, relative to competing brands. The mapping software can indicate the changes in the attribute profile required to move a liquid to a different, and preferred, location within the map.