The aim was to study the effect of concentration and molecular weight of four different β‐glucan preparations on the perceived sensory quality of a beverage prototype. The correlations between sensory and instrumental measures were investigated. Two of the preparations were brantype containing high molecular weight β‐glucan, two were more‐processed low molecular weight β‐glucan preparations. Twelve beverage samples containing 0.25–2% β‐glucan and one reference sample thickened with carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) were profiled by a sensory panel and analyzed by instrumental measurements (viscosity and molecular weight). Sensory profiles of the beverages varied at the same concentration of β‐glucan, depending on β‐glucan preparation. Beverages made with the bran‐type preparations were more viscous and had higher perceived thickness than beverages made with more‐processed, low molecular weight preparations. Moderate correlations were obtained between perceived thickness and sliminess and instrumental viscosity at all shear rates between 26 and 100/sec (r = 0.63–0.78; P ≤ 0.001). Technologically, more‐processed β‐glucan preparations are easier to add into a beverage in amounts sufficient for achieving a physiologically functional amount of β‐glucan in a product.