Calling all beer lovers! Sharing with you the secret that will take you from beer novice to beer pro in just under five minutes!
Think back to the time when you visited your local pub. Chances are that there would have been plenty of different craft beers and you would have had a hard time figuring out which one to pick. We don’t blame you – in fact, small independent craft breweries today represent a major share of the overall beer industry.
And, thanks to the burgeoning craft brew revolution, there are plenty of choices. Unfortunately, this presents a new problem. We are having a difficult time choosing the right style.
Worry not guys; we’ve broken down the beer tasting steps into seven easy steps. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll learn all that you need to know to taste beer and appreciate the differences in flavors.
Here’s our 7-Step Guide to Tasting Beer like a Pro
Tasting beer today is no more about – popping open the can and chugging it all down. In order, to fully appreciate and enjoy the beer you’re drinking, you need to follow the following steps.
It all starts with the pour. Whether you’re drinking beer directly out of the bottle or can, you need to pour it into a glass to fully appreciate the taste.
To get started, you can use a regular “pint” glass or any standard glass you have at hand. However, if you’re serious about your beer, then we highly recommend that you get started with the right beer glass based on the type of brew you’re drinking. Take a look at our Glassware Guide to pick the right style of glass to choose from.
Your eyes are very much a part of the culinary experience. Once you’ve poured the brew into your glass, we urge you to give it a good look. Note the colour, consistency, and size of the head and any other physical features of your drink.
The next step is to swirl your glass gently. Move the beer around the glass. No, you need not slosh it around, just a teeny tiny bit will do. This is to bring out all the subtle flavours, aromas and nuances of the drink. This test also checks for head retention. Does the head disappear or is it retained well?
Right after you have swirled your drink, the next step is to smell it. Take two sharp sniffs and then a regular sniff. The last sniff should be done with your mouth open.
While doing this step, we recommend that you remain in an area without overpowering odours. As strong odours could interrupt the experience.
The idea behind the sniff test is to take note of all the aromas. Look for strong as well as weak aromas. Try to articulate what you smell into words. Can you sniff coffee, chocolate, mint, etc.?
Now, this is the moment you have been building up to. Doesn’t your beer taste better, when you have been waiting for it? Go ahead, indulge in your drink. The only rule – don’t chug it all down. It ain’t a beer guzzling contest. Sip slowly, cherishing each mouth.
Take small sips. Don’t swallow it right away. Let the beer coat your tongue, the sides of your mouth and the top of your throat. Let it sit for a while so that your taste buds can pick all the flavours.
Exhale the air in your mouth, via your nostrils. Then, swallow it slowly. Sip it like a connoisseur.
This is the final step of the beer tasting journey. Take notes of what you felt. Open a notepad app on your phone and jot down your thoughts about the drink. You can even exchange notes with a friend.
This step is essential if you want to become a beer tasting pro. Only by jotting down what you feel, you can improve your beer drinking experience. This will also prep you for future tastings. Create a personal database of your beer experiences, so you can compare and contrast it with other styles you come across in the future.
This will help you identify your personal preferences. That’s it. You can now become a beer tasting pro.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the popular terminologies used by beer connoisseurs.
- Bouquet – This is the overall aromas and smells perceived in the drink. Other related terms include – nose and aroma.
- Balanced – As the term implies, a beer that has all the main components balanced, with no single overpowering element is called a balanced beer.
- Big – A beer heavy on the alcohol or flavour is termed as “big.”
- Chalky – It refers to beer that tastes dry, powdery or dusty.
- Finish – The flavours that are retained in your mouth, after you swallow the drink.
- Head – The foamy head on top of the drink.
- Lightstruck – A beer that’s exposed to too much light. It has a “skunky” flavour.
- Mouthfeel – Just as the term implies, this refers to the feel of the brew in your mouth.
- Opulent – A beer that is rich, well-balanced with a good texture and mouthfeel.
- Round – Another term for a balanced beer.
- Sessionable – A beer that has low ABV (Alcohol by volume) is called sessionable. These beers can be drunk for several hours, without the risk of passing out.
- Thin – A beer that lacks flavour, complexity or body.
Some Tips and Tricks for Tasting Beer
- Look at the Dates – While purchasing beer at your local store, make sure to take a look at the “Bottled on” or “Best Before” dates. If drinking at a pub, you can ask your bartender for the date. Beers over three months old get funky. A month is the sweet spot for drinking beer.
- Cellar with Caution – If you’re ageing beer, then you have to do it properly. Else, you run the risk of spoiling your beer. Take a look at our ageing guide that gives you all that you need to know about ageing
- Try plenty of beer – Just like with everything else, “practice makes perfect,” when it comes to beers. The more styles of beer you taste and reflect, the more your tastes grow.
Now, that’s some perfect advice right? (As if you needed an excuse to drink beer) Go ahead, and drink some beer!