Beer Flavor Pictographs

I like beer. I really like to try new beers, but it is hard to know which ones to choose when there are so many delicious new micro-brews on the shelf.

The Idea : Put a small industry wide standardized pictograph on the bottle of beer to indicate what it will taste like. As best I can gather, there are 5 commonly used measurements that establish the primary taste of a beer (see brutalbeers)

  1. Alcohol By Volume (ABV)
  2. International Bitterness Units (IBU)
  3. Original Gravity (OG)
  4. Final Gravity (FG)
  5. Color

So if we were to lay out those measurements on a graph where, for example, ABV is on the right, IBU on the left, OF and FG on the top and bottom, connect the dots, then fill the resulting polygon with the expected color (since most beer does not come in clear glass bottles), we would have our pictograph.

American Lager Example Pictograph

A hypothetical example of what a pictograph for a standard American lager might look like.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Example Pictograph

A guess as to what the pictograph might look like for Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale (one of my favorite beers), based on their posted values of [6.8% ABV, 16 OG, 4 FG, 65 IBU].

Example Pictogram Placement

Example of a pictograph placement. But you get the idea.

The pictograph could be quite small, say 1 cm (1/3 inch) squared, and would just be a visual indicator as to what to expect. The actual precise values may be referred to elsewhere on the label or on the web.

Obviously there is much more complexity to beer than just these 5 metrics, but I would imagine that smart chemists, brewers and graphic designers could take this idea and run with it to come up with something meaningful to help us, the beer-loving public. I fully recognize that the tastes would likely differ because of the intricacies of the brewing process, additives, shelf life, shipping processes, etc…, but as noted above, this is just an indicator to expected taste. Ultimately if the final implementation produced reasonably distinct images for distinct flavors, I would argue that this would provide significant value.

To expand upon the idea, different base shapes could be used for different beer types, so for ales, the base shape would be a square (as indicated above), whereas for lagers, maybe rotate the square 90 degrees? Or use a circle to elongate mid-ranged values? Again, I am not a designer, so I would rely on more capable people to really refine the idea.

Furthermore, why stop at beer? This same iconography could be applied to wine, bread, basically anything with a reasonably finite set of metrics used to describe it.

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