It was advertised as “the best job in the world” – beer tasting for a brewery in Northern Ireland – but the prospective employers did not anticipate 2,500 applicants.
The offer of free beer, chips and a taxi home attracted global interest, but only a tiny proportion of the population has the genetic ability to do the job.
James Huey, director of the Walled City Brewery in Derry, says it’s all about “genetics”, with 1/100-1/200 qualifying as “super-tasters”.
“The thing is, you probably don’t know you’re a super-taster,” he said.
“You may be aware of it from maybe if you’re out for a meal with friends and you’re picking up certain flavours and you’re saying that I can taste this and people are going, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’.”
Josh Kyle, the head brewer, could not believe “how far people were willing to travel for a free pint of beer”.
“Two addresses stood out to me, Philadelphia in America and San Palo in Brazil, which is mind-blowing to me, but I think it kind of sums up the human race a little bit,” he added.
Honouring everything from the Undertones to Derry Girls, the 500 beers they have brewed celebrate a city reborn after decades of conflict on its streets.
We tasted some of them – it would be rude not to – including a rather strong beer that was first brewed more than 300 years ago.
James explained: “We found this old recipe which was in the diaries from the Siege of Derry, which was in 1689, between King William and King James.
“It said ‘the most potent liquor under the sun’, and it’s 12%.
“It was effectively a tonic back then… apparently it cures three ailments, the first one is toothache, the second one is heartache and the third one is lingering distemper. We can’t stand over any of that, unfortunately.”
Only 12 applicants were successful in the end. The other 2,488 will just have to pay for their next pint.