Tasting Beer

Beer is probably the most democratic alcoholic drink in the world and it doesn’t demand that you sip and swill every pint. However, being aware of all your senses when drinking can greatly enhance the experience.

We drink with our eyes: read the label or beer menu what does it say about the beer? What color is the beer, and is it cloudy? Looking at the beer, whets the appetite and gets the tastebuds tingling. Touch the glass and note the temperature. Some beers, especially those that are lagered, are best chilled, while others need the warmth of a room to release soaring fruity aromas and esters. As you lift the glass, the work of the nose begins – a wheat beer might have bubblegum or clove notes; a highly hopped IPA could soar with tangerine or other citrus notes. Then sip and let the liquid caress your tongue. ls it sweet? Are there notes of bitterness? Can you detect dark fruits? What impact does the malt make? Then swallow. Is the finish long or short? Can notes of warmth from the alcohol be detected? Do the flavors from the hops linger on and on? You 1night want to record your notes for exceptional finds and old favourites so that you can compare the1n.


Good pouring is an art, and one that adds to the beer experience. Use a squeaky clean glass and hold it at an angle of 45 degrees. With most beers, don’t be afraid to boldly pour so that a foaming head starts to form. As the glass starts to fill, bring it up to the vertical by the time the bottle is half empty.


Continue to pour into the centre of the glass when the glass is vertical. This will help the formation of a perfect head – beer is the only alcoholic drink that has a naturally foaming head. If the beer has been bottle conditioned and has some yeast sediment in it, you will have to decide whether to stop pouring and keep the yeast in the bottle, or whether to empty it into the beer.


Look at the beer: are there lines of carbonation rising up the glass? Does it sparkle and dance in the glass? What color is it? A good beer should be enticing and intriguing. As you drink, a fine lacing of foam should be left on the glass – that’s a sign not just of a good beer but a clean glass.


Our noses can detect more than 1,000 different aromas, and most beers contain a complex mixture of different scents. Swirling the beer in the glass, will encourage its aromas to leap out.


Take a good long sniff. Can you detect floral or citrus notes? Perhaps there are coffee or resin aromas? Esters add to the chorus in stronger beers, while, wild Iambic or gueuze beers should have strong, earthy notes of sweet and sour.


Taste the beer and let it roll across your tongue, where your tastebuds for sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and umami are found. How does the beer feel and what can you detect? ls it grainy or fruity? The greatest beers are balanced, with the flavors working
in harmony with each other.