June 02, 2009

How to Taste Beer

Though most people drink beer just to drink it, there is a certain way in tasting beer. You may want to find another favorite beer to drink than "sticking with" the usual. Perhaps, when your favorite is not available, you have something to fall back on or just maybe you like to mix it up now and again.

To taste beer means to sense it and perceive it with all the sense organs. It's perception involves the eyes, nose and mouth.

Sight is the first to react, the visual impression of the beer gives an idea of it's color, clarity, cloudiness, or brilliance. The color of the beer is a distinctive feature of different types- Light and Dark. Each beer has its own hue. Example, light beer should have, besides the right color, good clarity that is identified by the brilliance when you look at it through a glass.

The appearance also allows one to evaluate its carbon dioxide content, head and head stability. High quality beer should have a compact, abundant head that "sticks" to the walls of the glass and is left around the edges. It should not be less than 40mm in height and stability not less than 4 minutes.

Note, visual impression can reflect on perception of the other organs. The perceived senastions come from smell as well as taste, with the nose sometimes anticipating the sensation more than the tongue.

The tasting has several steps:

1. Concentrating and perceiving the aroma in several intakes of breath though the nose.
2. Agitating in circular motions and noticing the difference in intensity and quality of the aroma after agitation and without it.
3. Visual evaluation of the head formation, clarity, and brilliance.
4. Taking a little bit of beer in the mouth and holding it for 15 seconds while fixing on the first impression.
5. Then perceiving the full aroma with the nose and mouth.
6. And last, swallowing and perceiving the taste and aftertaste.

One should take notice, first of all, if the taste, aroma, hoppy bitterness are the characteristics of this beer style and then if the beer has any extraneous flavors. It is recommended to use the following list of terms in evaluating the beer.

Aroma ~ inherent to beer - balanced, hoppy, malty, fresh, yeasty, flowery
~ Extraneous smells - phenol(medicine smell), musty, sour, oily(diacetyl), boiled corn(dimethyl sulfide), green apples(acetaldegide), rotten eggs(hydrogen sulfide), etc.

Taste ~ pure, full bodied, balanced, expressed, unbalanced, weakly expressed, bland, sweetish, malty,
~Flavors - yeasty, caramel, fruity, acidic, metallic, sufurous, honey, oily, phenol

Bitterness ~ delicate, coarse, residual, pleasant, unpleasant, strong, weak, un-hoppy

Temperature influences the taste perception, with increase of temperature, the colloid system of the beer changes it's properties and is reflected on its taste. If the temp. is considerably lowered, the taste is bland, if it's made too high, it's unpleasant. This is why beer should be served in the range of 46.4F and 53.6(8 - 12C) and served in specially designed stemmed glasses, narrowing at the top to avoid fast diffusion of the aroma elements.

Now that you know to "taste beer", go out and enjoy some fresh new brews!


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