Sorry, XKCD, pink is not the best-tasting color

XKCD is the best-tasting webcomic, with a penchant for data-driven comics that are both funny and informative.  So I was excited to see this recent comic, showing the best-tasting colors.


I quickly realized that I had, at my fingertips, a dataset that could corroborate this comic. The What to Brew dataset has roughly 118,000 datapoints of crowdsourced votes, saying whether an ingredient would be good or gross with a style of beer.

The real best tasting colors

I quickly classified each ingredient with a color, and found the average good rating for each color. What I found shocked me. I had quantitatively and scientifically disproven the comic. Here’s what I found:

  1. blue: 51%
  2. brown: 51%
  3. orange: 50%
  4. red: 50%
  5. purple: 49%
  6. yellow: 49%
  7. black: 47%
  8. white: 47%
  9. pink: 46%
  10. green: 41%

That’s right- blue ingredients (blueberry and juniper berry) and brown ingredients (chai, chicory, coriander, cardamom, seeds of paradise, cinnamon, chocolate, peanut butter, hazelnut, pecan, bacon, bourbon, whiskey, coffee, oak, rye, maple) are the most delicious ingredients.

The overall average is 49%, so these are all clustered pretty densely. The big outlier is green (green tea, mint, lemon grass, cucumber, basil). Sorry, college parties and faux Irish pubs, but green beer is scientifically a terrible idea.

Why XKCD may be right

Or at the very least, not wrong

Okay, so there are a few significant differences between our datasets and analysis. For the most part, XKCD used personal opinions, putting coffee quite low, but it still acknowledges a range of taste on chocolate. This analysis is based on the tastes of thousands of people, so it is more representative (at least of English speaking homebrewers).

The domain is also different for each analysis. This analysis doesn’t include creamsicles or cotton candy, and XKCD’s doesn’t include bourbon, seeds of paradise, or any number of other ingredients that are much more likely to show up in beer than in a random kitchen.

This is also a reminder that the What to Brew dataset may not always be applicable outside of the world of beer. Green ingredients are delicious. I love me some teas, and basil is amazing in a caprese salad. But in beer? Not so much.

In conclusion, eat the colors you like to eat, and drink the colors you like to drink.

Just discovering What to Brew? Explore our additions or other analysis of the dataset. And you can improve our results by voting!



  1. Green beer rocks. Every year at our local beer festival i have “Sign of Spring”. A local (Wiltshire UK) beer made with herbs, not food colouring. Recommended but not one of your 5 a day!

  2. The title text on the image (hover over it) makes it seem pretty clear that this was not a data based comic.

    From memory it says something like Chocolate may be subjective but the others are all objective.

  3. I’m a candy maker ( and I can say the flavors and colors are personal. People very but also feel very passionate about what they love and hate. Do a survey on licorice black licorice specifically he will get a world of very strong opinions. Anise is one of those flavors that you love or hate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *