The Art of Properly Tasting Beer

You might enjoy drinking beer, but have you ever stopped to actually taste it? Properly tasting beer, especially your own homebrew, is a lot different than sipping from a glass or a bottle. It’s a process that will enhance your enjoyment of the drink. Learning how to taste beer will open a new world of flavors and tastes to you. Once you learn to taste beer fully, the watery mass-produced beers you might have enjoyed in the past will lack appeal.
Follow Your Nose
The senses of smell and taste are very closely connected, according to brewer Randy Mosher in “All About Beer” magazine. The sense of taste is considerably less complex than the sense of smell. Traditionally, there were four tastes: bitter, salty, sweet and sour. A fifth and a sixth flavor have been recently discovered: umami and fat. Unlike taste, your sense of smell is far more developed. You can smell tens of thousands of aromas.
When tasting beer, you actually taste with your nose before you taste with your mouth and tongue. Up to 95 percent of the flavor of beer comes to you through smell, according to “Beer Advocate.” Try these steps when learning to taste beer:

  • Agitate the beer in glass to release aromas. Swirling the glass with your hand will gently release aromas.
  • Bring your nose towards the glass and sniff the beer, breathing in through your nose.
  • Make note of what you smell. Your descriptions of the aromas can be as creative as you wish. Don’t worry about censoring yourself. Just describe what comes to your head first.
  • Smell and taste the beer in an area that is free from other aromas. A smoky location is not a good spot to taste beer. Don’t wear a lot of perfume or cologne when tasting beer, as the fragrance will interfere with the tasting.

Tasting the Beer
Once you’ve smelled the beer, it’s time to taste it in your mouth. Tasting beer is much more that taking a sip and swallowing. When you sip the beer, hold the liquid in your mouth. The beer should travel over your tongue so that you are able to fully appreciate all the flavors in it. As the beer travels around your mouth, think of the tastes that occur. It might taste sweet one moment, then bitter. Try breathing through your nose as you swallow the beer so that you can fully appreciate all the aromas and flavors.