Anyone can chuck a beer down the hatch without tasting it; and thats nothing to be ashamed of – in fact its one of the great plus points of the golden liquid. Its versatility means you can spend hours over a half pint weighing up the intricacies of its taste, colour, smell and mouthfeel – whilst in the same breath you can be sat in a pub at 1:56am talking crap with your mates just enjoying only the refreshment.
For those times that you do want to spend a little time getting to know your beer then here are a few steps for you which will really help you taste the beer.
1: Spark up those nostrils
Before anything else you need to smell the beer. Smell in short sniffs, this way you don’t dry out your nose and get the full impact of the beer. Pause between your draws to really think about what your conk is describing to you. Even try and identify those smells with memories and other smells and this will make your description rich and layered. Also keep coming back to smell the beer as you get through it, it can change and tell you new things.
Not getting much? Then there are a few things you can do. Swirl the beer in the glass to unleash some more of the aroma or if the beer is really cold for its style, cup your hands around the glass to warm it up and this should release more of the aroma.
Top Tip: To reset your nose if you’re tasting many beers, sniff the back of your hand and that should clear your nostrils for the next waft.
2: Admire the beauty
Quite simply, look at the beer. Note its colour, clarity, head character and retention (the stickiness of the head to the glass). You can hold the glass up to a light to check its clarity or for the full ‘beer photoshoot’ effect do this with a beer tanks, or a cascade of hops behind you.
3: Taste the bloody thing
Okay, you’ve teased yourself for too long – now you can put that glass you your lips and taste. For the full effect let the beer linger on your tongue and warm up. You should be looking out for sweetness and acidity and after a wee bit longer bitterness (this takes a little longer to kick in).
Try and also be aware of the mouthfeel sensations; body, carbonation, astringency (that tight feeling in your mouth) and oiliness. These are all good notes to have to compare to others in the style of beer your drinking and help you determine whether its good or not.
Also pay attention to the after taste. Is it quick or drawn out, Smooth or harsh, hoppy or malty or roasty? Or is it all of these combined?!
Even the most gifted tasters miss things. The best thing to do is discuss what your feeling and tasting in the beers. When people mention other flavours you’ll often pick up on them, or maybe there is a taste you just can’t name and someone else will get it. Even better you can throw in some mental idea and see if your gullible pal goes along with it. If YOU are the gullible pal then consuming beer through your ear is actually the way the proper experts taste it, you should try that out.
So those are our four steps to helping you effectively taste the beers; Smell – Look – Taste – Discuss. We hope this gives you some starting point to get stuck into your next delivery. Let us know on Twitter or Facebook how your first tasting session goes with your next box and we can compare notes 😉
Thanks for reading!