How To Really Taste Your Beer

While the best way to drink a Coors Light (if you’re forced to do so in the first place) is to plug your nose and chug as quickly as you can, perhaps it’s needless to say that with “better beer” comes a better tasting experience. And here’s how to properly do so:

image by The Washington Post

1. Appearance: Before you take your first sip, look at your beer. Hold it up to the light and observe the color – is it brown, red, golden, pitch black? Is the beer itself crystal clear or hazy? Now how about the head – is it thick and pillowy or did it dissipate quickly? How about the color of the head, pure white (common to pilsners and other light-bodied beers), deep tan (common to stouts and porters), or somewhere in between?

2. Aroma: Smell the beer. Is there the spicy, citrusy, piney aroma of hops or the burnt, toasted, chocolate, coffee aroma of malted barley? What are some of the other spices or fruit smells (often caused by different yeast strains) present? Raisins or cloves? Banana or bubblegum? Pinning down the smells can be the toughest part of the tasting process and takes awhile to master. Be sure and take your time and check back in on the aroma of the beer as you drink – it often changes and morphs as the beer warms.

3. The First Sip: When you take your first sip – swirl it around in your mouth and over your tongue; note the initial sensations the beer causes. Is the brew sweet, bitter, sour or something else? As you’re beginning to learn, beer (especially ale) can be very complex and there can be quite a difference between the first sip and the finish.

4. Mouthfeel: This aspect is more important (and maybe more fun) than it sounds. The mouthfeel – The texture of the beer and how it feels in your mouth – of beer ranges from silky & dry and thick & chewy to thin and fizzy. Is your beer slick on your tongue?

5. Finish: Note the flavors that stay behind after you swallow – is it the bitter hops or the sweet malt? Before you take your next, and subsequent, sips make note of your final detections and rethink your conclusions about the beer.

6.Enjoy: This, needless to say, is the most important part. For God’s sake, take pleasure in your beer.

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