Published in Ferment Magazine, 23 March 2020
Some people dig all sorts out of their IPAs: mango, peach, apricot, honey, citrus, lime, guava, papaya, lychee, orange pith. Are they making it up? Probably not. Sure, everyone’s experience of taste is individual. But when enough people agree that a given hop smells of tropical fruit, blueberry and citrus then you have to accept that it probably does, even if you can’t pick out any of those things for yourself.
But there is good news: you can learn to get better at picking out flavours. It all boils down to active tasting and smelling. This is a skill that can be learned, just like tying your shoelaces or improving your handwriting. “Any of us can train our sense of smell,” says Bianca. “There’s research on this that shows it’s not a question of winning the genetic lottery.”