In 5 steps.
01 / 2016
The bottle and the label give you some more information about the beer of choice. The labels on cat food cans often contain more information than these of bottled beers. Still, you can find a lot of info ons some labels. For example whether it is a recognized Belgian abbey beer, Trappist or an authentic old gueuze. Sometimes you even learn if the brewer worked with hops of Poperinge. Or if the beer is brewed by a Belgian family brewery.
When you open the bottle and pour the beer, you’ll see immediately whether the foam builds up very quickly, or remains small. And look at the bubbels, are they are refined and small, or rather big? Small and fine bubbles often point to a stable quality, and are also beautiful to look at. Small side note is that certain beer styles will always have a small or even no foam at all, like an old lambic or a oak aged beer.
From straw yellow to black, between all shades of red, the color spectrum in beer is very broad. It is mostly the malt (grain) that gives the beer its color.
"The labels on cat food cans often contain more information than these of bottled beers."
80% of our sensory experience is determined by our nose and sense of smell. Please absorp the aromas of the beer at different times, before and after the head has dropped, because teh foam covers a portion of the aromas.
Aroma is what we perceive when the beer is in our mouth, and after we have swallowed it. That‘s because, the carbonation and the heat released in the oral cavity help realease those fragrances.
And aromas can be linked to ingredients. Some examples:
- caramel, coffee: malt
- passion fruit, citrus, grapefruit: hop
- banana, clove: yeast
- iron: water
How does the beer feel like? Very soft or quite hard? Are the bubbels gently biting on your tongue or not at all? This gives you an indication of the CO2 content.
Does it feel round, creamy or light? Do you experience heat in your throat or not at all? This will help you estimate how high the alcoholpercentage of the beer really is. The warmer it feels, the higher the alcohol volume.
You can only discover the basic flavors of sweet, sour and bitter taste in beer. Salt is never, and umami very rarely present. A combination of flavors is always possible. For example, a beer can be both sweet and bitter or sweet and sour.
The widespread tongue-map theory claiming that you can only taste sweet at the front of your tongue, sour and salty on the sides, and bitterness at the back of the tongue, is definitely false. Each taste bud on the tongue can detect any taste.
Once you have swallowed the beer, which taste remains? And for how long? Notice how this feels. Sharp, harsh or soft and harmonious? The finish is quite important. A great beer will sometimes have a very unpleasant aftertaste, and people won’t order it nothing just beacuse of the aftertaste.
In contrast to wine (and caudalies) the length of the aftertaste has nothing to do with the quality of the beer. The finish, short or long, must above all be a nice addition to the flavor.