The six flavour attributes used by the PintPicker system have been arrived at through an evolutionary process that began back in 2000.
Real ale contains many tens (if not hundreds) of flavours, but the average beer drinker doesn’t need the nose or taste buds of a master taster in order to know what he or she likes; clearly, we’re not setting out to train people in the nuances of professional beer tasting. Flavour wheels are commonly used in the brewing trade and are useful to the brewer but arguably rather less so to the enthusiast. They contain many technical terms that would be unfamiliar to the lay taster and a number of “off” flavours that wouldn’t be flavours of choice in your preferred pint.
So we have ignored the off flavours and concentrated on the ones which make a pint taste good as well as distinctive. And we have cut down the numbers of flavours considerably – our flavour wheel contains just six.
Professionals will also make a clear distinction between taste and aroma; most of us know from school biology lessons that taste buds differentiate just four basic tastes: sweet, bitter, sour and salt. The first two of these are of prime importance to us and they form the first “axis” of our beer flavour chart. But most of us do not make a clear cut distinction between taste and aroma – we tend to muddle them together into a wholistic sensory experience that we call flavour. This combines the taste bud stimulus with odour as well as mouth-feel, producing an overall impression.
It is this overall impression that our system attempts to capture, and we make no claims for its ability to discern quantitatively and consistently between one beer and another. What it will do however, is give a good broad approximation across a range of beers and return the ones most similar to a chosen beer.
For more information on how it does this you can read more about the "difference analysis" algorithm. But crucially, because we recognise that everyone's tastes are a little bit different, it will allow you to compare just your own tastings as well as the entire database. So, whatever your favourites are, provided you are reasonably consistent in your scoring of individual beers the system should return fairly reliable results.