Is There A Psychology of Hop Aversion?

Crazy Mountain Brewing

I'll be making a big leap in this post...On my way to work the other day I was listening to a Science Friday podcast, as I always do on my way to work, and the topic of the 'psychology of sadism' came up. Steven Pinker, author of the book Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, was talking about torture, that during certain ages even though people have an aversion to torture, if they saw it enough they would begin to develop a taste for it "and they positively craved it." He goes on to say, "We have reason to think from the studies of the psychology of sadism that even though we're born with an aversion to causing direct physical harm to someone with our bare hands...It's kind of like the aversion to eating strong spicy food or fear of heights. You start out with that fear, but once you master it, it can become a source of sophisticated pleasure."

I know I'm making a huge, gigantic, really wild leap here but I was wondering if the same might be true of very bitter foods, including bitter hops in beer? (I told you it would be a big leap). I know many people who were extremely turned off by beer that was lopsidedly bitter, however at some point it's like they flipped a switch, turned on the light bulb, and now bitter beers are about the only things they'll let pass through their system. Bittering hops temporarily demolish your palette but so many people have specific hops that they like more than others. Some have preferences of lemony, grapefruit, earth, piney, or even spicey hops. Some people love beers that have complex hop aromas and flavors. But I'll say it again, a huge amount of people I know had a strong initial aversion to bitter and hoppy beers. I'm curious what the psychology of sado lupulinism would look like?

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BeerEric Steen