UK's three leading lagers - Budvar, Heineken and Stella Artois - are indistinguishable, according to blind taste tests

So is brand loyalty driven solely by advertising and packaging?

The next time it's your turn to get a round in after work and your colleagues give you a shopping list of their preferred pints, just ignore them and order five of the same.

New data suggests that no-one is likely to be able tell the difference anyway.

Using European pale lagers (Budvar, Heineken and Stella Artois), researchers at the Stockholm School of Economics blind-tested 138 volunteers aged between 21 and 70. They were given three samples of the beer, two of which were the same and one was different.

They were then asked to select the odd one out and their findings were clear.

"They cannot distinguish between three major competing beer brands," stated the (rather brutal) report.

"Our results suggest that brand loyalty in this market is likely to be driven largely by marketing and packaging and not by underlying sensory properties of the competing products."

Ouch.

For all the various companies' claims of being "reassuringly expensive" or "refreshing the parts other beers cannot reach", it turns out that mass-produced golden nectar is much of a muchness.

This news might be welcomed by the casual beer drinker (no more waiting around for the barman to change the barrel of your "favourite" beer, just order another. They all taste the same!) but you can bet that the manufacturers won't be pleased with the findings.

"I think basically what we're looking at is a commodity industry – the products are interchangeable," said Robin Goldstein, one of the authors of the Hide The Label, Hide The Difference report. "It also means that the beer industry has perfected pale lager beer."

Booze choose: three 'aleconners' perform a taste-test on beer at the Brewers' Exhibition in London in 1936 Booze choose: three 'aleconners' perform a taste-test on beer at the Brewers' Exhibition in London in 1936 (Getty Images)
And it's certainly not the first time that an independent blind test has left a major brand's marketing department with a bad taste in its mouth. In a survey of 13 tomato ketchups by Which?, Heinz finished joint second from last, despite boasting an 80 per cent share of the market. The favourite was a Sainsbury's own brand that cost almost half the price of "the nation's favourite".

And while the sauce company also insist that Beanz Meanz Heinz, evidently consumers decided that, in fact, beans means Branston.

When Which? (surely now Heinz's arch-nemesis) tested a dozen types of baked beans, Heinz only came in fourth, being beaten by Branston and, perhaps even more embarrassingly, by Asda's and Morrison's budget offerings as well.

Read more: Britain's 'best beer' revealed at 2014 festival
Britain's 'best beer' revealed at 2014 Great British Beer Festival
Man breaks through brick store wall for a 12-pack of beer

Perrier-Jouët would be hoping that few people found out about research carried out by the Universities of Oxford and London which found that bubbly experts preferred the taste of a Mumm Vintage 2004 (a steal at £40) over the rather pricier (£400, in fact) Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs.

However, if these companies grow too concerned, they should take comfort in the findings of one of the most famous ongoing blind taste tests in history.

Ever since the 1980s, Pepsi has asked the public to don a blindfold and choose between their drink and Coke. The ads might have always shown Pepsi being picked, but it was in real life, too. Apparently, Pepsi was sweeter.

Frustratingly for Pepsi, however, it remains the third biggest-selling soft drink in the US (behind Coke and Diet Coke), despite more people claiming to prefer the taste of its fizz. Brand loyalty has a lot to answer for.

Perhaps, however, it offers a certain comfort to the lager companies, given the latest findings. History shows that even if the beers are "interchangeable", pub-goers aren't likely to change their order any time soon and try something new.

Just ask poor old Pepsi.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat