Julia Herz: Hello! I am Julia Herz publisher of craftbeer.com a website by the Brewers Association. And today I am going to provide some tips on tasting craft beer and how to get the most out of your experience.
Let's talk about the odor many tend to evaluate. First there is esthetic. When tasting craft beer I always pour it into a glass and look at the freshly poured beer. Beer is measured in SRM or Standard Reference Method that tells us about color on the scale of two on the lighter side to 40 plus on the darkest side.
Next is carbonation. Is there a big collar of foam, one or two fingers tall, very little bubbles on top? Where you see foam and bubbles is where carbonation is most concentrated. And CO2 or carbonation heightens the aromatics of craft brewed beer and lifts them out of your glass towards your nose. It affects the mouth feel or how the beverage feels on your tongue and leaves the beer as the temperature rises.
So what do the legs in the glass tell us? Ethanol the main alcohol in fermented beverages reduces the surface tension of water in a beer thus leaving legs on the side of the glass as one swirls the libation, the more alcohol the larger the legs. By the way, most craft beers are much lower in alcohol than the average glass of 12% alcohol by volume wine.
Here is two good ways to get a sense of the aromatics in the beer, the blood haem technique. Just try three quick sniffs or another way, one long sniff as you pass the glass under your nose.
Now when smelling a craft beer you are looking for yeast, hops and malt in the aromas. Yeast ferment sugar from malt and other fermentables and delivers alcohol and carbonation and the esters from yeast are most common in ales, said to exist from higher fermentation temperatures, they smell like a variety of different fruits.
Malt aromas include honey from wheat or biscuit characteristics, cracker from pilsner malt and many, many more. And hop aromas, the mighty hop flower not only provides bitterness to balance the sweet of malt and food, but it also provides aromatics when the brewer desires to showcase these.
The aromatics often showcase themselves in the flavor of your craft beer. It's also important to note there are differences between the initial taste, mid taste and active taste.
And on to the body or mouth feel. What do you notice on your tongue? Is the feel of the beverage silky, slick, heavy or does it leave your mouth feeling dry. Mouth feels sensations include a sense of temperature, astringency and dryness.
There are many ways to enjoy craft beer and please remember to always savor the flavor responsibly. Cheers!