Just over a year ago I was preparing for a beer judging exam – getting familiar with the nuances and appreciating the flavours of different beer styles was an absolutely amazing experience and gave me a new appreciation for the variety of beers brewed around the world. Here is an introduction to the dimensions of each beer and what the characteristics are that define each beer style.
- Appearance: Observe the color, clarity, and carbonation of the beer. The color can range from light straw to deep amber or even black. Clarity should be clear or hazy. Take note of the head, including its size, color, and retention.
- Aroma: Smell the beer, focusing on the malt, hops, and yeast. Each type of beer will have a unique aroma, and it is important to be able to identify these scents.
- Taste: Take a small sip of the beer and let it sit on your tongue for a few seconds. Pay attention to the sweetness, bitterness, and sourness of the beer. Take note of any flavors you detect, such as fruit, spices, or chocolate.
- Mouthfeel: The texture and body of the beer should be considered when evaluating the taste. Is the beer light and crisp or heavy and creamy? The mouthfeel can affect the overall taste of the beer.
- Finish: After swallowing the beer, take note of the aftertaste. Is it short or long-lasting? Bitter or sweet?
By applying these techniques to your beer tasting, you can develop your palate and become a better beer taster. Its also worth spending some time to think about the descriptors for each dimension for example if the Taste reminds you of malt delve in some more is it crackers like taste or more malty caramel? Note also the intensity of each descriptor from just noticeable to dominant.
Remember to drink water between tastings to cleanse your palate and maintain sobriety.
In conclusion, beer tasting is a fun and rewarding hobby. With the right techniques and practice, you can expand your knowledge of craft beer and become a critical taster. So grab a glass, grab a beer, and start your tasting journey!