Abstract The present work investigated consumers’ hedonic response to flavor stimuli in light of Berlyne's collative-motivational model of aesthetic preferences. According to this paradigm, sensory preferences are a function of a stimulus’ arousal potential, which is determined by its collative properties. The relationship between overall arousal potential and hedonic response takes the shape of an inverted “U”, reaching an optimum at a certain level of arousal potential. In three independent studies, using different sets of novel beers as stimuli, consumers reported their hedonic response and rated three collative properties: novelty, familiarity and complexity. Relationships between these collative properties and hedonic ratings were explored by polynomial regression. The results revealed patterns in line with Berlyne's predictions (curvilinear relationship) with regard to perceived novelty, whereas mixed results were obtained for familiarity and complexity. Additionally, in two of the studies, the moderating role of relevant consumer characteristics – product knowledge, food neophobia and variety seeking tendency – was investigated. A consumer's degree of product knowledge was found to significantly reduce perceived complexity and novelty, ostensibly reflecting the learning that occurs with previous exposures.