Beer Tasting

beer_sampleAroma

– result of the interplay between the hops, malt and yeast.  Malt adds a sweeter aroma, sometimes described as bread-like, coffee-like, or chocolaty.  Hop aroma depends on the variety and amount of hops added to the beer, and if and when any aromatic hops were added in the brewing process.  Hop aroma can be described as floral, crisp, sharp or pungent.  Also, certain yeasts will add fruity or spicy characteristics to a beer’s aroma.

Appearance

– color and clarity of beer.  A beer’s color is determined by the amount and type of malt used.  Barley is steeped in water, allowed to germinate, dried and then roasted or caramelized to create specialty malts.  Malts can produce beer colors ranging from pale straw to black, depending on the degree of roasting.  Some beers, such as hefeweizens, remain cloudy in appearance because they are not filtered before serving.

Another aspect of a beer’s appearance is the beer’s head.  When a beer is poured, a layer of dense foam should form and stay on top of the beer.  At least some of the head should remain in the glass after the beer is consumed.  Different styles of beer will have different head appearance.

Body

– or “mouth feel” is the overall feel and texture of the beer.  Beers are generally described as thin-, light- medium-, or full-bodied.  Higher carbonation levels create the impression of a lighter bodied beer.  Some beers are watery, some are creamy, some crisp and dry and some (such as some stouts) can be soft and chewy.  Other terms used to describe beer body are full, flat, sharp, smooth, thin, thick, winey or dry.

Flavor

Flavors in beer can be described as hoppy (herbal, spicy, zesty, earthy, cedary, bitter), malty (sweet, caramel, cookie-like, nutty, toasty, coffeeish), yeasty (bread-like), roasty (taste of darker roasted malts) – or any other flavor you can detect in your beer.  Apples, bananas, bubblegum, cloves, grapefruit, oranges, licorice, or toffee are some examples.

Aftertaste

– also called the “finish”.  While many beers now produced by major brewers have little or no aftertaste (light, dry, ice beer), the aftertaste is your final judgement of the beer.  Many aspects of a beer’s flavor are accentuated in the aftertaste. What flavors linger on your palate?