Tasting beer like a pro, easy as 1-2-3
By Malin Norman
Beer tasting can look serious with a lot of swirling and sniffing, sipping and swooshing, holding up beer glasses to the light, nodding or shaking heads, and – finally – some clever comment about the type of hops used. No need to feel intimidated though; it’s actually easy peasy. With three simple steps, you too can taste beer like a pro.
Step one, look at what’s in your glass. Colour and clarity will give you a hint of what it is. For example, a golden, hazy beer might be a New England IPA (although looks can be deceiving!). By the way, the best glassware for tasting beer is a stemmed glass such as a tulip glass, so you can hold it by the stem and don’t risk warming up the beer.
Next, swirl the glass to release aromas and take a sniff. Take care not too over-swirl, if you keep on swirling and sniffing and swirling some more, you’ll swirl all the carbonation away and might think the beer is flat. When smelling the beer, think about what it reminds you of. The easiest is relating the scent to those in cooking or baking. Perhaps it smells of freshly baked baguette. Or does it remind you of cold-brewed coffee with a splash of vanilla?
Finally, taste the beer. There are only five basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami – and what comprises ‘beer flavour’ is actually a mix of a wide range aromas and these basic tastes. Consider the level of bitterness, mouthfeel (is it watery or syrupy?), and alcohol warmth when you swallow.
That’s how easy it is to taste beer: look, smell, taste. But how do you know if the beer is any good, you might ask? Well, that’s preferential. Would you have another?
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