The Ultimate Beer Tasting Guide: Tips For Becoming A Connoisseur

Informational

Group of friends beer tasting

Drinking and trying out new beers every hangout can not just be a casual pastime but may also be a beloved hobby. However, judging a beer’s taste and style has so much depth, and appreciating the beverage’s other elements can be complex. 

If this interests you, keep on reading so we can help you understand and rate beers like an experienced consumer

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Factors in Beer Tasting

There are several key aspects to notice and preparations to do when beer tasting. Some characteristics should be essentially observed before, during, and after drinking beer to assess and describe the brew successfully. Here are some of them:

1. Palate Cleanser

A glass of water

Rinse your mouth with a glass of water and have plain crackers or any unflavored bread to snack on in between drinks to balance your tastebuds. All the more so if you're sampling many beers. 

This will aid in cleansing and refreshing your palette, allowing you to appreciate all the served varieties of beer.

2. Type of Beer

Three glasses of different types of beer and a bowl of pretzel

Ales and lagers are the two main types of beer. Their main differences are how these two primary beer classes are fermented and the yeast utilized in brewing them. Color, taste, and alcohol content have little bearing on their distinctions.

Ales are matured with top-fermenting yeast at a higher temperature, typically ranging from 59 to 71.6 °F, whereas lagers are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at a lower temperature of 33.8 to 50 °F.

Ales may ferment and mature in a very short amount of time at around 3 to 5 weeks because of their warm fermentations. On the other hand, Lagers require significantly longer to brew, reaching up to 6 to 8 weeks due to their cool fermentation.

3. The Freshness of the Beer

Newly opened beer bottle

Beer tasting is best done with freshly brewed beverages. Trying beer that is more than a few months old may not be a fantastic experience since the original tastes may have been tainted by storage. 

A month old is the ideal age to try the beer for tasting. Anything older than 3 months won’t provide the fine qualities that young beers exhibit.

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4. Temperature

Beer bottles on ice

To fully appreciate a beer's flavor, it must be served at the proper temperature, which differs based on the beer style.

The temperature of the brew has a significant impact on its flavor. You can completely appreciate the flavors of the beer if it is served at the right temperature because the taste, body, carbonation, texture, and aroma are all affected by it. 

The lower the temperature of the beer, the less effervescent that is generated, the fewer aromas are produced. Furthermore, if the beer is excessively cold, it numbs your tongue, making it difficult to detect the subtle flavors of the drink. 

Lagers are best enjoyed at 39.2 to 44.6 °F, while regular ales are ideal to consume at 50 °F. Moreover, there are stronger ales available in the market, and they are best to drink when they are at 53.6 to 60.8 °F.

5. Right Pouring to a Glass

Woman pouring beer to a glass

Pouring your beer into a decent beer glass is the most incredible way to appreciate and explore it. The technique aids in releasing the drink's full fragrance and flavor characteristics, providing you with a delightful overall drinking experience. 

Tilt your glass to a 45-degree angle while holding it, then slowly pour the beer into the glass until it has been filled up to the middle. While gently elevating the bottle, hold the glass at 90 degrees and pour the remaining beer. To enjoy the drink, roughly 1½ inches of foam should be added to the top.

6. Appearance

Beer flight

When transferred in a clear beer glass, the beer's appearance, including its color, is easier to observe. Beer comes in a variety of colors. Red colors generally signify a rich caramel flavor, while black hues usually indicate chocolate or coffee undertones. 

Apart from the color, foam and clarity also contribute to the beer’s appearance. You shouldn’t be bothered about the beer's clarity because it depends on the filtering procedure. The beer might be clear or foggy, which isn't a reflection of its flavor.

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7. Aroma

Man smelling beer

It is imperative to take both quick and lengthy sniffs when doing a beer tasting because aroma accounts for the flavor. Smelling the beer provides us information even before actually trying it. 

To unleash the aromas and tastes of your beer, gently swirl it about in your glass. This is also an excellent approach to assess head retention and induce carbonation. The dominating scents, such as acidic, zesty, sweet, woody, herbal, and floral, are what you should search for when sniffing the beer.

8. Taste

Two men tasting beer flights

Take a big mouthful, but don't swallow it all at once. Beer is designed for drinking in huge swallows. Let the beer flood your mouth as it rolls over your tongue. You should concentrate on the beginning, middle, and finish of the flavor, which might be very distinct from one another. 

The first impression is formed by the sensation of the beer's carbonation and sweetness, as well as the first bite of hops. The presence of malts and hops in the mouthful, or mid-taste, is frequently described. After you've completed the beer, you'll have an aftertaste which is the finish.

Umami, bitter, sweet, salty, and sour are some of the flavors present in beer. Take a few moments to see if you can identify any other flavors that your tongue may have missed upon drinking the beer. Also, before you swallow, pay attention to the sensation it gives the corners of your mouth.

9. Texture

Beer fizz

The beer's texture is felt on the parts of the mouth, including the tongue. Body, astringency, and carbonation are the three components of texture or mouthfeel. 

Body refers to the sense of fullness on the palate and the thickness and mouthfeel of the beer. Astringency is a parched, grainy, mouth-puckering, tannic feeling caused by phenolics, specifically the polyphenols in beer. 

Lastly, carbonation is the bubble formation or the fizz that rises when the pressure is released in the beer bottle.

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Beer Tasting Guide FAQ

1. What is the exact order for tasting a beer?

It's best to start with lighter beers so you can still notice the delicate complex tastes of the beverage variant. Your palette may not be able to detect the gentler notes in some beers if you drink them after a robust, rich brew. 

Typically, beers with lighter colors have a lighter body and flavor. However, this argument is faulty since some light-colored beers, such as IPAs with a strong hop flavor, have a bold taste.

2. What is a beer flight?

Beer flights are tasters of a selection of the menu's beers. These may be found in many different shapes and sizes, with a wide range of beer types to choose from. They're commonly presented on a wooden plank or ornate board with constructed slots or grooves to keep each glass in place. 

Beer flights are a terrific way to try a variety of beers. A beer flight would be an excellent way to begin the whole beer tasting experience as you can already observe and review the beer's appearance. It's also a terrific opportunity to try out a brewery's brews without having to spend a fortune.

3. How do you drink a beer flight?

You are free to enjoy a beer flight in whatever way you like! You can drink the first variant of beer before moving on to the next, or you can take a sip from each beer in succession and repeat until all of the beers have been consumed. 

Both drinking styles have benefits. Finishing each drink one at a time is a smart method to concentrate on each beer. On the other hand, if you try a few different beers, your palate will pick up on new subtleties in the following few swallows.

4. What is a virtual beer tasting?

When a club or organization holds a virtual beer tasting, a participant is guided through an entertaining sampling of craft beers from all around the world. 

They customize the tasting to each person's preferences and put together a box of beers, which they mail to each participant's home. Then they drink beer with them, answer questions, and get the discussion and conversation about the beers started. 

5. Are hops present in all beers?

Hops are found in all beers, although their flavor is more prominent in specific styles, such as IPAs. Hops are a vital ingredient of a beer's flavor and are essential for its bitterness. 

The type of hops used can significantly influence the palate profile. It improves the beer's taste profile and has preservation characteristics that keep it fresh for a longer period. Wine grapes and hops are similar in concept.

Conclusion

Judging a beer’s taste and style has so much depth, and appreciating the beverage’s other elements can be complex. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all have some fun trying to figure it out! 

The next time you go out with friends, why not try tasting new beers and discussing what you like (or don’t) about them? Who knows, maybe you might even develop a new hobby in the process.

Are there any other elements of beer that you would like us to cover in a future article? Let us know by leaving a comment down below!

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  • Eve Mitchell on

    I loved that you mentioned that professionals will customize the tasting to your preference. I love trying new alcoholic drinks, and I have a huge interest in global flavors. I’d like to go to a tasting that allows me to try different flavors of beer. https://www.tusker.beer/lager


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