Tasting Notes for Craft Beer
Craft beer is more than just a drink. For many, it’s an art form, a science, and a culture! For craft beer enthusiasts, tasting notes are a way of appreciating and sharing the complex and diverse experiences associated with different brews.
Tasting notes are also useful for learning more about beer styles, ingredients, and brewing techniques. In this article, we will explore how to write tasting notes for craft beer, what to look for in different beer styles, the effect of terpenes (and other additives) in craft beer, and how to pair beer with food for a more enjoyable experience.
Beer Styles and Characteristics
Beer styles are categories of beer that share common features such as origin, history, ingredients, appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and alcohol content. There are hundreds of beer styles in the world, but they can be broadly classified into two main groups: ales and lagers.
To analyze and describe the appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression of each beer style, you can use the CraftBeer.com Tasting Sheet, which has a scale and a list of terms for each aspect. For example, appearance can be rated from 1 (very pale) to 5 (very dark) with terms such as clear, hazy, cloudy, or opaque to describe the clarity.
For the aroma, you can rate the beer from 1 (low) to 5 (high) and use terms such as floral, citrus, pine, caramel, chocolate, or coffee to describe the smell. Flavor can be rated from 1 (low) to 5 (high) with terms such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or umami.
Mouthfeel can be rated from 1 (low) to 5 (high) with terms such as thin, thick, smooth, creamy, or fizzy describing the sensation. The overall impression can be scored from a value of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) with terms such as balanced, complex, refreshing, or satisfying to describe your general opinion.
Common Beer Flavors and Aromas
Craft beer is a rich and diverse world of flavors and aromas that can stimulate the senses and enhance your enjoyment. There are many factors that influence the flavor and aroma of a beer, such as the ingredients used, the brewing process followed, and the storage conditions applied.
In this section, let's identify some of the common flavors and aromas that can be found in craft beer and explain what causes them.
Honorable Mention: Terpene-Infused Craft Beers
Terpene-infused craft beer is a new trend that combines the aromatic and flavorful compounds found in plants with the traditional brewing process. Terpenes are responsible for the distinctive smells and tastes of various plants, such as citrus fruits, pine trees, and cannabis. By adding terpenes to beer, brewers can create unique and innovative beverages that offer both sensory and functional benefits.
Some of the advantages of terpene infusion into craft beer include:
Craft beer offers a wide range of flavors and aromas that can appeal to different tastes or preferences. However, tasting notes are not only about describing what you perceive in a beer; they're also about enjoying what you drink. One way to enhance your enjoyment of craft beer is to pair it with food that complements or contrasts its flavors and aromas.
Beer and Food Pairing Ideas
Pairing craft beer with food is a way of creating a harmonious or contrasting relationship between the flavors and aromas of the beer and the food. To close out the article, let's go over three specific beer and food pairings that enhance the tasting experience below.
IPA and Curry
The hop bitterness of the IPA cuts through the spiciness of the curry, while the citrusy hop aroma complements the aromatic spices of the curry. Try this pairing if you're looking for a combination that perks you up while opening up the lungs.
Stout and Oysters
The roasted malt flavor of the stout balances the briny flavor of the oysters, while the creamy mouthfeel of the stout contrasts with the smooth texture of the oysters. Give this pairing a try at the end of a long day when you want to treat yourself to a rich, luxurious flavor and aroma experience.
Wheat Beer and Salad
The fruity and spicy flavor of the wheat beer matches the fresh and crisp flavor of the salad, while the high carbonation of the wheat beer cleanses your palate between bites. This is a good pairing for quick pick-me-up in the run up to a long or productive day.