At its best, tasting beer can be as deep and rewarding as tasting wine, whiskey, or port. Of course, developing a tasting acumen requires time and effort. Building your palate is a journey of a thousand sips, but what are we looking for when we taste a beer?
To answer that, we’ve compiled a straightforward guide that’ll amp up your beer tasting game and hopefully help open up a new world of flavors (and beers) for you to enjoy.
ONE RULE: Don’t be intimidated. If you don’t like something right away, that’s fine. Approach it like tasting whiskey — no one likes that stuff the first time they sip it. It takes a few tries to get those receptors going. Overall when tasting a beer you’re going to go through a very similar process, you’re cultivating a sense here and that takes (very fun) practice.
Without further ado…
Pour the beer. The beer should always be poured into a glass. This allows it to start to aerate, releasing Co2 and aromas.
Look at the beer. What’s the color? Is it cloudy? Is it fizzy or flat? What does the head look like — big, small, muddy, frothy, thin?
Feel the beer. It’s good to know what temperature the beer is going to be by holding the glass for a moment. A warmer cellared cask ale is going to have a different reaction than, say, an ice cold pale lager. It’s all part of the sensory build towards drinking the beer. It’s worth noting that the colder the beer, the more the flavors can be masked by the numbing of your tongue with the shock of the low temperature.