In this series we’ve covered Beer Festivals – World’s Best Festivals, Tips for Your Festival Visit and Preparing for the Main Event. In conclusion to this awesome series, we will look at some important pointers to consider when tasting beer.
Ensure that you use a small glass. It will help you to control the amount of alcohol you drink and a large glass will get you drunker a lot faster, especially at a beer festival. Also rinse it often or take a new glass as often as possible so that the essence of the previous beer does not cloud the flavour of the current beer that you sample.
Beer tasting is an experience that encompasses all of your senses. Admire its fine form, take note of its colour and texture. Hold the beer in front of you but be careful not to hold it to direct light as its true appearance will be diluted. Take note if the head is dense or thin as well as if the beer is cloudy or clear. Also observe the appearance of the head, which will range from white to brown depending on the type of beer. A thick head is a good sign and a thin head may indicate that there is a problem with the beer.
As tasting anything has a lot to do with your sense of smell, gently swirl your beer to release aromas and nuances. Take two quick sniffs, then do so again but keep your mouth open then breathe through your mouth only. Gently swirl again if necessary. Making the effort to smell your beer and take in the aroma will ensure you are taking in maximum flavour when you taste the beer. Smell the beer as soon as it is poured it is the best time to do so.
Pay careful attention to the first sip, note the initial sensations that you feel. Do not swallow immediately. Swoosh the beer around in your mouth as it makes its way around your palate. Note if certain sensations heighten or fade with each sip. Pay attention to the mouthfeel and exhale while you taste. Exhaling while you taste is known as retro-olfaction. This process will release retained stimulations. Observe how the beer feels in your mouth. A slippery mouthfeel could be an indication that the beer was brewed from oatmeal and heavier beers are probably brewed from a lot of malt. Note the drinkability factor. Did you enjoy it? Would you drink it again?
As we have just pointed out, there is a lot more to beer drinking than chugging away. Adhere to these beer drinking rules and your visit to the beer festival will certainly be redefined.