The Amazing Science Behind Your Personal Tastes: Learning Through Beer and Chocolate

November 19 2014, 12:15 PM

Chocolates by Piece, Love & Chocolate —photo by Carol W. Maybach

To say the Genetics of Taste Lab is cool is an understatement. Located in the Expedition Health exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the laboratory is the only citizen science-driven and community-based human genetics lab of its kind. Its mission is to research the sense of taste and relay it in a way that connects lay people to relevant, everyday science. Using a community-based participatory model that allows kids and adults to take part in groundbreaking research on taste, the lab conducts scientific experiments that have called into question some of the most basic assumptions about how humans experience taste. They then disseminate the professional research through a variety of mediums as well as hands-on presentations geared for non-scientists, such as next month’s “Science, Craft Beer & Chocolate Desserts.”

Held at the museum from 7 to 9 p.m. on December 10, this particular lecture combines the expertise of Dr. Nicole Garneau, director of the Genetics Taste Lab, with the talents of chocolatier Sarah Amorese of Piece, Love & Chocolate and brewer Jeff Mendel of Left Hand Brewing Company to showcase how chocolate creations uniquely complement particular microbrew beers. “Wine is the usual suspect when people pair a beverage with chocolate or dessert, but our focus shows the science behind something different,” Garneau explains. “We work with a range of high-quality beers with flavor profiles that range from traditional to surprising and we demonstrate why you don’t always have to pair chocolate or dessert with a stout or a porter. What makes it fascinating is discovering the science behind why you as an individual might like or dislike a certain combination.”

“It all comes down to three aspects,” Dr. Garneau says. “Genetics, conditioned biological behaviors, and the human element of conditioned emotions—they all play into your personal preferences as well as give validity to your personal tastes.” To find out how and why, you need to sign up for Garneau’s class where she promises, “We want you to leave realizing it was the science of you, cleverly wrapped up in the bow of beer and chocolate.”

Tip: Those 21 and older can sign up here for Dr. Garneau’s presentation, (which comes with samples, discount coupons, and a take-home guide for pairing beer and chocolate). Note that registration is only available on the website; spots fill quickly and registration closes at noon on December 3.

Genetics of Taste Lab, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd., 303-370-6000

Piece. Love, & Chocolate, 805 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-449-4804