Rival Beers Actually Taste the Same, German Study Says

Cologne and Dusseldorf have an established beer rivalry
plate of german beer in glasses

Wikimedia/Tim Bartel

The German cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf have a long-standing beer rivalry, but now a German professor says both beers actually taste the same. 

A good-natured rivalry is normal between cities, and those often take the form of ragging on each other’s food. In the U.S., New York and Chicago may never stop picking on each other’s pizza and hot dogs, and in Germany the cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf have been mocking each other’s beer for generations. But now a German researcher has looked into the phenomenon, and he says both beers actually taste the same.

According to The Local, Cologne is famous for its Kölsch pale ale, while Dusseldorf prizes its local Altbier, which is dark and the color of copper. According to the residents of each city, their beer was the best, and the other was sad and flavorless by comparison.

Last week, however, Professor Helmut Quack of the University of Dusseldorf published the results of a study that is sure to get some beer-lovers’ noses out of joint, because he says the beers taste the same.

Professor Quack got 50 men from each city and had them taste Kölsch and Altbier and say which they preferred. In each group, 78 percent of the men said they preferred the product of their own cities.

But then Professor Quack had them taste the beers while blindfolded, and they couldn’t tell the difference. The beers’ flavors were described as “nearly equal,” and when asked which beer they thought was which, the results were no more accurate than flipping a coin would have been.

“These results are quite amazing, because it is unbelievable that men cannot differentiate objectively between Kölsch and Alt,” Dr. Quack said.

Quack’s study is unlikely to change any minds, however, though both Dusseldorf and Cologne can probably agree on how much they don’t like Dr. Quack right now.

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