How to have the best experience with your beer?
Even if you are not an experienced gourmet, you can appreciate all the flavors of your beer if you taste it quietly. Tasting a beer involves the taste, but the sight and the smell also contribute. You need to know some tips to have the best tasting experience. The three following chapters describe step by step what you must know to enjoy your beer.
1. Get ready for tasting
a) The environnement
Tasting a beer must be performed in a quiet atmosphere, and a nice ambience. You need to get time. You cannot taste a beer if you are on a hurry.
- Disturbing odors (cigarette smoke, perfume, cooking odors, ...),
- A place where it is difficult to focus (bar, supermarket, ...).
b) The glass
Each beer gets its own preferred glass. If you choose the right glass, you will better enjoy the aroma, the foam, the color, etc.
As it is difficult a get the adequate glass for each beer you want to taste, you can use instead a tasting glass. It must be big enough (greater than 20 cl) in such a way it can contain enough beer if it is half full. This should be of course a goblet; We will see why below.
The glass must be dry and clean in order to evaluate correctly the foam. Greasy agents will kill the beer foam: it is important to wash the glass with cold water and let it air dry before you serve beer. Between each tasting, you should wash your glass to avoid taste residue of your last beer.
- Too small a glass (smaller than 20 cl),
- A dirty glass, or a glass with taste residue (dishwasher soap, …)
c) The beer
The type of beer you have selected is very important, because it defines an adequate tasting temperature and the type of glass. All beers have to be drunk in a different way (in general, the label provides this information):
- Some cold - 5°C to 6°C,
- Other cellar temperature - 10°C to 15°C,
- Some warm - Around 70°C.
When looking at a beer, be careful to three elements: the foam must adhere to the walls of the glass, the bubbles should be small and regular and, finally, the color should be bright, except for beers on yeast, like white beers.
- Not following adequate temperatures prevent beer to reveal its flavor.
You should take your time for a successful tasting. Above all, avoid a mouth sullied by other tastes: they completely distort the taste of beer. Before starting your tasting, nibble a small piece of bread to scrape the mouth.
- A spicy meal before tasting,
- Hard liquor before tasting,
- Being rushed or stressed.
2. Serve the beer
Open the bottle gently without shaking. Then take the glass with one hand by the foot (not below to avoid the hand gives off heat in beer and fake tasting).
With the other hand, pour beer gently and gradually move away the bottle from the glass as it fills up, so to create a beautiful head of foam. The head should be three to four centimeters in average. The head is essential because:
- To fully appreciate the flavors of a beer, you need a beer head which let the bubbles escape the spices and other flavors that make up its bouquet,
- The head of foam protects the beer against air and avoid the taste is altered by oxidation.
Once the head of foam is formed, tilt the glass to raise the liquid under the foam and thus control the thickness of the head that is expected to persist until the end. Fill the glass up to half.
Next, slowly swirl your beer in your glass. The gentle motion allows the liquid to agitate, unlocking the beer's subtle distinctions of consistency, aroma and carbonation—small factors that greatly enhance the beer's character.
- Shake the bottle before opening,
- Pour beer in the glass too quickly,
- Fill more than half of the glass (too full glass prevents you from stir and smell the aromas that emerge),
- Hold the glass by the bottom or the side (you will risk to warm beer with the warmth of your hands),
- Getting a beer without foam or with too much foam too.
Train yourself to serve a beer with the draft beer dispensing system simulator.
Did you know ?
Beer head (also head) is the frothy foam on top of beer which is produced by bubbles of gas, typically carbon dioxide, rising to the surface. The elements that produce the head are wort protein, yeast and hop residue. The carbon dioxide that forms the bubbles in the head is produced during fermentation. The carbonation can occur before or after bottling the beer. If the beer continues fermenting in the bottle, then it naturally carbonates and the head is formed upon opening and/or pouring the beer.
There are three essential steps in tasting a beer:
- The sight - Observe the beer: color, foam, ...
- The Smell – Smell the beer to smell the aroma that emanates,
- The Taste - Taste the beer to feel all the flavors. Unlike wine, you must swallow a mouthful to also assess aftertaste.
Some speak of another step, involving the hearing, consisting of putting the glass near his ear to hear the crackling of beer.
a) Observe the beer
The first thing we see: the color. It can be amber, white (trouble), blond, brown, dark red, dark brown, golden blonde, purple, amber-purple, black, orange-blonde, amber-pink, bright red on blond lie, blond disorder, …. The color of the beer is not related to the quality of the beer; its color comes from the malts, fruit and sometimes dyes syrups.
Then we can observe transparency or clarity of the beer. Generally a beer that is not clear but otherwise disorder or veiled is a sign of poor quality. This criterion does not apply to beer whose characteristic is to be trouble, like white beers.
The foam is to be formed of fine bubbles (less than 1 mm diameter). Proper foam should be white, and stay white and disintegrate after two to three minutes. When the level of beer in your glass down, the foam is deposited on the glass walls and leaves traces. These traces are called lacing. A good lacing (no big holes and regular) is positive.
b) Smell the beer
Smell and taste are closely linked, so to enjoy a beer to its fullest, take time to savor its aroma.
Beer contains more than 650 aromatic compounds; you must first smell it without moving the glass to capture the dominant scent. Beer can then rotate in the glass to release the secondary aromas.
c) Taste the beer
The key here is to take your time. Have a sip, and before you swallow, let the beer flow over your taste buds (sweet, salty, sour, and bitter). Swirl it around just a bit, so every part of your mouth has contact. Breathe at the same time for the flavours to come to you again. That way, you'll be able to appreciate every nuance of the beer's body, character, and flavours. Then, of course, repeat.
Then enjoy the aftertaste: the perception of taste that remains after the beer has left the mouth. It can be pronounced or subtle, persistent or fleeting. The flavor notes present in the aftertaste can be very different from those which dominate the taste in the mouth.