A Better Beer Tasting Experience Posted November 4, 2014

Beers come in all different flavors, colors and textures. Some people enjoy lighter, others enjoy darker. Some enjoy hoppy beers, others not so much. And some beer aficionados enjoy drinking all different beers, ordering a new one every visit to the bar.

Perhaps you are one such aficionado, or maybe just the casual beer drinker. A beer tasting outing can satisfy the most novice of drinkers to the biggest connoisseurs. But beer tasting doesn’t just mean blindly going to a bar and downing a few different drinks. It instead involves a whole process of preparing your senses for an enriching drinking experience.

Beer tasting soon? Here are six tips to improve the occasion:

  • Look, swirl, smell taste: These four steps are the key to any beer tasting activity. First, look at the beer to gauge its true color, head and consistency. Then, swirl the beer gently in the glass to bring out the beer’s distinct aroma and flavor. Next, smell the beer through your nose to stimulate senses. Finally, sip the beer without immediately swallowing to let the flavor move around your pallet.
  • Check the way you pour beer: Pouring beer is definitely an art. If drinking a full glass, first pour at a 45 degree angle, and then move up to a 90 degree angle once the glass is half-full. Begin pouring gently and then become more aggressive as the glass fills. Both these techniques allow the aroma to stay trapped in the glass.
  • Environment matters: Beer tasting involves all five senses. Therefore, the environment you choose to drink in can either enhance or detract from your experience. Drink in an environment soothing both mentally and physically. Drink under natural light and not artificial light (such as fluorescent lighting). Tasting in an environment without excess noise will also enhance the experience, making you less distracted when tasting.
  • Mild first, bitter last: When tasting a variety of different beers, make sure to drink the mild, sweeter beers first and hold off on the thicker, bitter beers. If you drink bitter too early, the taste buds could become overstimulated, leading to a weaker taste for the sweeter beers.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking dilutes a person’s sense of smell and taste, making beer less pleasurable to the tongue.
  • Same goes for greasy foods: True, greasy foods do help better process alcohol. But beer tasting shouldn’t involve drinking that much alcohol. Rather, eating these foods either before or during the tasting will just leave residue on the lips and pallet that can dilute the head retention of the beer. If you really need something between drinks, dry bread, salt-free crackers or even ice water.