It turns out the Irish songs you listen to on St. Patrick's Day could have a big impact on how good your Guinness tastes.

Researchers have revealed the music that will make your beer taste sweet, sour or bitter.

“Certain frequency ranges, tempos, timbres, and harmonies, are associated by our brains with flavor attributes such as the sweetness, bitterness, sourness and perceived body and strength of the beer being drank," says Professor Felipe Reinoso Carvalho – whose joint study ‘Music Influences Hedonic and Taste Ratings in Beer’ was published in Frontiers in Psychology.  

“Mid to high frequency ranges with steady musical tempos and clean, consistent, major harmonies together with happy feelings being brought by music, typically makes the brain feel the beer is sweeter. But enjoying the same beer whilst listening to a sad song, with lower frequency ranges and intense, complex compositions can make it taste bitter. And sourness is associated with high pitched, random sounds – like drum cymbals.”

Speaking of the best Irish songs for beer drinkers, for those who struggle with bitterness, Professor Carvalho said: “I would definitely go for 'Orinoco' by Enya and ‘What Can I Do’ by The Corrs, as songs that will make my beer taste sweeter. 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' by The Chieftains is another song that has specific instrumentation and musical attributes that will make most people perceive their beer as sweeter”

For those who prefer a bitter beer, he said: “I would listen to songs like 'Drunken Sailor' by The Irish Rovers, 'Brown Eyed Girl' by Van Morrison. These kinds of instrumentals and musical compositions are far likelier to enhance the perceived bitterness of the beer being drank.  

“Whereas going for something to make my beer taste sourer, I’d definitely go for a song like 'Drunken Lullabies' by Flogging Molly.”

Talking specifically about Guinness, he continued: “Guinness already has a lot of body to begin with. But I love my beers bitter. So, to enhance that body and perception of alcohol percentage and bitterness, I’d choose to listen to one of my favourite artists in the world, Sinead O’Connor. And I’d go for some 90’s alternative rock like the Cranberries’ 'Zombie' – the super heavy guitar and strong emotions are likely to make my Guinness taste even heavier, bitter and strong”.

Dr Annemieke van den Tol, Senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Lincoln UK, explained the relationship between beer and music on St. Patrick’s Day further.

“I would predict that people will prefer drinking Guinness (or other typical Irish beers) over non-Irish beer when hearing traditional Irish music, or other popular Irish songs on St Patrick day. I also suspect that Irish beer tastes the best when accompanied with Irish music on St Patrick day!

“This is because of two psychological phenomena. The first is priming. This is the idea that exposure to one stimulus may influence a response to a subsequent stimulus, without conscious guidance or intention. In this line of research, it was shown that exposure to German music increased how many German wine bottles people bought in a wine shop, where exposure to French music did this for French wine.

“The second psychological phenomena is musical fit. Our brains function better when things are as we expect them to be or are well put together, such as when music fits. People are willing to pay more for their drinks when the music in a bar or restaurant fits the décor and types of foods being sold."

Meanwhile, global music streaming platform Deezer has revealed the Irish songs that see the biggest increase in streaming on St. Patrick's Day.

Topping the list is Irish classic ‘Grace,' sung by Aoife Scott, Roisin O’Reilly and Danny O’Reilly, with a 145,000 percent increase in music streams, followed by  ‘Four Green Fields’ by Sarah Moore with a 17,600 percent increase.  The Woolfe Tone’s ‘My Heart is in Ireland’ had the third biggest increase at 7,566 percent. The Chieftain’s ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ (3,914 percent) and Paddy Casey’s 'Saint and Sinners' (3,675 percent) rounded out the top five. 

Check out the list below for the complete top 20 Irish songs that saw the greatest increase in plays in the UK on St. Patrick's Day 2023.

Top 20 Irish songs that saw the greatest increase in streaming on St. Patrick’s Day:

  1. Aoife Scott, Roisin O, Danny O’Reilly – Grace 
  2. Sarah Moore - Four Green Fields 
  3. The Wolfe Tones - My Heart is in Ireland 
  4. The Chieftains - The Wind That Shakes The Barley
  5. Paddy Casey - Saints & Sinners 
  6. Sharon Shannon, Steve Earle - The Galway Girl 
  7. The Rumjacks - An Irish Pub Song
  8. The Irish Rovers - Drunken Sailor 
  9. Paddy Reilly - The Fields of Athenry 
  10. The High Kings - Irish Pub Song 
  11. The Dubliners – Molly Malone 
  12. The Dubliners- Seven Drunken Nights 
  13. Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies 
  14. The Chieftains, Sinéad O'Connor - The Foggy Dew 
  15. Christy Moore - Ride On 
  16. Luke Kelly - Raglan Road
  17. The Clancy Brothers - Beer, Beer, Beer 
  18. The Pogues - Dirty Old Town
  19. The Pogues - If I Should Fall from Grace with God 
  20. The Corrs - What Can I Do