Cheers!…testing alcoholic beverages

Cheers!…testing alcoholic beverages


We have a busy week in both Reading and Nottingham this week with a large consumer study on beer taking up most evenings. We love tests on alcoholic drinks, they are usually quite easy to recruit for and consumers turn up willingly and leave happy! Over the recent months we have worked on beers, red and white wines, champagne (everyone's favourite!), and most recently on whiskey. The whiskey study took us to Japan and Australia which made for a fantastic study and gave us the opportunity to create some excellent new agency partnerships.

We are often asked about restrictions or rules for carrying out testing of alcoholic drinks with consumers. There are no actual rules but common sense prevails and tests have to be designed with the care of the consumers and quality of data collected uppermost in mind. We design the test sessions and sample presentation such that the amount of alcohol each respondent consumes remains at a reasonable level (maximum 3-4 units of alcohol). When recruited, as well as exploring any possible medical exclusions, respondents are told the maximum amount of alcohol they will be asked to drink in the testing session and are asked to arrange transport home so that they do not drive. The attendance incentive is increased to cover transport costs.

On arrival at our test centre, each consumer receives in written form all the information about the maximum amount of alcohol they could consume in the session if they drank every drop presented. This information sheet reinforces that they should not drive after the test. They are asked to sign their consent to participate including a waiver saying that they take full responsibility for their actions after the test and for their safe transport home. On some occasions, we have carried out breath alcohol tests after the session and any respondents who have failed have been provided with snacks and asked to wait until they pass the breathalyser test.

As well as safety of consumers, it is important to manage the amount of alcohol consumed to maintain the quality of the data collected! So when there are large numbers of samples to be compared, volunteers will usually be asked to return on a series of consecutive days to evaluate all of the samples. Test methods that require all the samples to be presented and evaluated at one time such as Napping and Flash Profiling, may not work so well for large numbers of alcoholic drinks.

If you want to find out how we can help you investigate consumer response to your beers, wines or spirits please get in touch.