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Beer Tasting 101: The Basics

by Justin Giza on May 20, 2011 in Culture
Beer Tasting 101: The Basics

So you think you know about beer? Wait, no?

What's that? You know NOTHING about beer?

Well then, don't be intimidated! Professor Justin is here to help. Beer afficionados, you may want to sit this one out. We're going to cover the basics of beer tasting. We're talking 101. Easy stuff.

Try something simple.

Collect recommendations. If you truly don't know anything about beer, that probably means you don't know anything about beer selection. You should pick something basic and approachable.

I'm going to go ahead and recommend something along the lines of Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale from Yards. It's a great "starter" that's packed pull of flavor, and is just about everything a craft beer should be.

Ask friends or bartenders for additional recommendations. This is a great town to talk up craft beer.

1. Pour the beer.
Gently pour the beer down the side of the glass - not directly from bottle to bottom. You'll stir up the beer way too much, and will create too much foam, referred to as the head of the beer.

2. Note the appearance.
How's the beer look? Is it clear? Opaque? How's the color? Is the head thick or thin? Is the beer cloudy with sediment, or no? Jot it down in your journal!

3. Note the aroma.
Find the basics - hops or malt? Hops are a very distinct characteristic that you'll have to get used to tasting and smelling, as they are an essential part of beer. The easiest characteristics to pick out are usually "grassy," "floral," or "spicy" notes. Malty beers tend to have a more "roasty," "chocolatey" aroma.

4. Finding flavors in the sips
When you take your first sip, think of the flavors in three stages: what do you taste immediately, what do you taste as you swallow the beer, and what flavors linger in the finish? Some beers will be even more complex, and may change due to a number of factors such as temperature. For now, just try to find the simplest ones, and search harder as your palate expands.

5. Mouthfeel
While sipping the beer, you should also be examining the mouthfeel. This is the texture of the beer itself. Is it thin and watery, or is it a much heavier beverage? Silky, or fizzy? How's the carbonation?

We encourage drinkers to pick out simple flavors each time they drink. Not only will it make you better at tasting and pairing, but it'll also help you go head-to-head with hardcore craft beer enthusiasts all over!

Bottoms up, class!

 

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Related Articles:

5/21: 1st Annual Greater Northeast Philadelphia Beer Festival

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