“We have found that females often are more sensitive about the levels of flavor in beer,” says Barry Axcell, SABMiller’s chief brewer. Women trained as tasters outshine their male counterparts, he says.
If practice makes perfect, men should have the clear edge in beer tasting, since they account for 72.8 percent of the world’s beer sales, according to market-research firm Datamonitor Group. But SABMiller, which makes Pilsner Urquell, Peroni and Grolsch in addition to Miller and Coors brands, says its empirical evidence shows that females are the superior sex when it comes to detecting such undesirable chemicals as 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, which makes beer “skunky.”
Finding the very best tasters is crucial to the beer industry. Tasting panels ensure that the beer spilling out of the tanks each day conforms with the specific characteristics for each brand—such as the mild fruit flavor in Coors Light or the dry finish of Peroni. Tasters also help brewers decide how long their beers will stay fresh on store shelves, and what new products to introduce.