Saturday, December 15, 2012

Learning How To Taste Beer

The Beer Flavor Wheel
As I've mentioned before, I wish I had a better vocabulary about tasting things. Luckily, my friend, Aram, showed me a tasting wheel. I'd never seen such a thing, but was happy that someone had fashioned one particularly for tasting beer. 

There are a few different beer tasting wheels that I've found after searching the internet. It turns out that all of these show basically the same thing, they're just organized differently. The Beer Flavor Wheel is the one Aram found and showed me on his phone while we sat at the bar. I like this one because there are more descriptions to choose from. I found that the Beer Aroma Wheel was the easiest to look at, but I would use as an initial tasting wheel. If I needed a further description I'd turn to the more inclusive Beer Flavor Wheel.

Beer Aroma Wheel
I was originally confused about the terms "odor" and "aroma," because in my mind they refer to the sense of smell. I didn't know you were supposed to smell beer! Well you are. Check out this guide on how to taste beer. Very informative. I always smell everything anyway, but I never thought to really sniff it like when wine tasting. My other problem with aromas, or the tasting wheels, rather, was that the wheels were really focused on the aromas and had very little about taste. Like I said, as I'm going through these wheels I'm thinking of the last beer I drank, which was very caramely, but according to the wheel, that's just supposed to be aroma and not taste. So, again, I turn to the guide

 Taste: Raise the glass to the lips and swallow enough of the beer to allow it to wash the entire tongue. Try to separate the hop taste and the malt taste. Are they well balanced for the style? Balance is the blending of all of a beer's properties - bitterness, acidity, esteriness, hoppiness, etc. The more malted barley used (in relation to the water), the more full and powerful the taste. Is the body full or thin? Beer can be dry, (lacking sugar) and with a usually strong bitter hop character, or fruity (the presence of sugar), or rich (a full taste of malt and fruit). How is the aftertaste? The aftertaste should confirm the taste. Is it clean and pleasant? You want to experience a slight degree of aftertaste... 
Flavor: By far the most important and enjoyed element of drinking a beer is its flavor. To best taste all the flavors of a beer, make sure the liquid visits all four areas of your tongue: bitter, sour, sweet and salt. Take special notice of the orchestration of the balance between the hop bitterness and malt sweetness.
Flavor as "Maltiness": Malt provides the yeast the food to make much of the beer flavor. This can be described as a sweetish or dryish "earthy" flavor. A heavier roasted malt will also contribute a degree of "roasted" taste to the beer. What grapes are to wine, malt is to beer.
Flavor as "Hoppiness": Hops provide an "herbal, crisp, bitter, palate cleansing" effect to beer. Aromatic hops provide the herbal "grassy" nose, while bittering hops provide the gentle bitterness or "bite" in beer.
That's very helpful and makes me want to go out and get a sampler and some beer glasses. To beer tasting, my friends! 

No comments:

Post a Comment