Why Are Women Better at Tasting Beer Than Men?S

Is there any reason to be a man anymore? You know, besides the patriarchy, male privilege, and peeing standing up. Turns out, not only are women better at graduating from college, and being employed—they're better at tasting beers.

Beer company SABMiller is hiring more and more female taste-testers, apparently because their sensitive woman-tongues can taste certain flavor subtleties better than men:

If practice makes perfect, men should have the clear edge in beer tasting, since they account for 72.8% of the world's beer sales, according to market-research firm Datamonitor Group. But SABMiller, which makes Pilsner Urquell, Peroni and Grolsch in addition to Miller and Coors brands, says its empirical evidence shows that females are the superior sex when it comes to detecting such undesirable chemicals as 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, which makes beer "skunky."

Finding the very best tasters is crucial to the beer industry. Tasting panels ensure that the beer spilling out of the tanks each day conforms with the specific characteristics for each brand-such as the mild fruit flavor in Coors Light or the dry finish of Peroni. Tasters also help brewers decide how long their beers will stay fresh on store shelves, and what new products to introduce.

Today, 30% of SABMiller's 1,000 advanced-level tasters are female, Mr. Axcell says. The number of women tasters has roughly quadrupled in 10 years.

The "taster of the year" at SABMiller is a 33-year-old female former secretary in Poland, Joanna Wasilewska, who has an "unusual knack for identifying extremely low levels of troublesome chemicals." She chalks it up to her "love affair with perfumes." Men have no one but themselves to blame, for not allowing male children to fall in love with perfumes!

As it stands, there haven't been any peer-reviewed scientific studies backing up SABMiller's hunch. But Danish brewers Carlsberg A/S noticed a similar trend after testing its panelists this year and finding women performing better than men. (Their official line is that there's no difference between the sexes, and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the ol' sexists, say that men and women are equally good at tasting beer.)

So, what gives? Is there some kind of special chemical in their, you know, womanly parts?? Well, no: If it's even true that women can taste for chemicals or flavors better than men can, it's probably just that they are better at smelling things, according to Marcia Pelchat, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. For example, Gen. Stanley McChrystal is unable to smell the fact that Bud Light Lime is disgusting, due to being male, whereas women can tell that Bud Light Lime is gross, immediately.

Unfortunately, as cool as it sounds, being a beer taster basically makes you impossible to go out and have fun with, because you become totally insufferable:

There are downsides to the job. "It's hard to be a social drinker sometimes," says Laura Dopkins, 28, a MillerCoors panelist, who has a master's degree in food science and used to taste cereal bars for Kellogg Co. "Other people don't find it fun to drink around you" when you refer to beer as "metallic."

[WSJ, photo via Shutterstock.com]