When beer drinkers order a pint of Innis & Gunn at a handful of U.K. bars, they'll also be served up a virtual reality headset to accompany the oak-aged ale. The Scottish brewery says it enlisted a cognitive neuroscientist to develop VR landscapes that enhances the beer drinking experience. And while the technology and effort is impressive, it seems to us like a great way to ruin a good time at the bar.
"We've seen virtual reality amusement parks, house viewings, and food tastings," explained Master Brewer and Founder Dougal Gunn Sharp in a press release. "So we were fascinated to explore how this incredible technology would impact our beers."
Working with Jacob Jolij, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, Innis & Gunn created two VR videos — one for the Original and another for its Lager. The theory behind the experience said Jolij, is that "it will change the way your brain processes and interprets the signals coming from your taste buds, drawing on personal memories of sight and sound to create a unique experience of the beer for every drinker."
For Innis & Gunn Original, the video (watch it below) opens in a thick forest to connect the drinker's brain with the toasted oak flavors of the ale. It then finishes with a sunset, which, Jolij said, "shifts the focus to its sweetness."
The science is undeniably cool, but it undermines the social power that makes beer so wonderful to begin with. Instead of engaging with your friends to have a laugh and solve the world's problems, you're sitting on a barstool cut off from the sights, sounds, and people around you.
There's one thing Innis & Gunn's VR videos get right though, and that's the pure pleasure of enjoying a fine beer in the great outdoors. Instead of simulating the experience of sipping an oak-aged ale among towering trees, throw a couple cans in your daypack and head to the nearest hiking trail. Rather than watching a recording of someone else's sunset, go watch your own. They literally happen every day.