Tips for a great beer-tasting experience
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM.
Lindsey Engel, the import craft specialty manager at The Lewis Bear Co., answered a few of our questions, advising us on the ways to best enjoy a beer-tasting.
Here are some steps to properly sample craft beers:
1. Look at the beer in your glass. You should have a beer clean glass allowing for adequate foam/head.
2. Swirl the beer in your glasses this will allow for aromas to be present and loosen carbonation.
3. Smell the beer. Up to 95 percent of all sensory experience is through your sense of smell. You should breathe quickly through your nose then again breathe through your mouth only as well.
4. Taste the beer. Take a sip of the beer and hold it in your mouth as you breathe in. While you still have the beer and start to breathe out and exhale try to also detect flavors such as salty, sweet, bitter, etc. Also try this again after the beer warms up just a bit. Americans tend to drink beers at a lot colder temperatures, as you let the beer warm up a bit you may start to detect flavors and aromas you didn’t notice before.
What type of beer should you start with for a great beer-tasting experience? Why?
As a good rule of thumb it is generally better to try beers with lower IBU’s or International Bittering Units. IBU’s measure the perceived bitterness in a beer, the lower the IBU the lower the bitterness, so it is better to start with the craft beers with the lowest IBUs. A beer’s color is not an indication of IBUs. Just because a beer is light in color it can still have higher IBUs than a beer that is darker in color.
Should you eat beforehand, during or after a beer-tasting?
It is always recommended to eat before tasting beers. A lot of craft beers have high alcohol content and sometimes people that aren’t used to drinking them on a regular basis can be caught off guard.
Should you be cleansing your palate in between beers? Beer types? How?
Drinking water and eating crackers and/or pretzels is also a good recommendation to cleanse the palate while tasting multiple beers. This doesn’t have to be done but can help breakdown the bitterness of certain beers.
Are there any beers you HAVE to try? Anything unique or not easily found in the area?
Beer festivals are a great way to sample different beers sometimes not offered on a regular basis, especially seasonal beers, so those are always great to try because they aren’t available year round. Make sure to write down some of your favorites or take pictures of them, that way you can remember which ones you really liked and would like to purchase at the store. It is very hard to remember all of the beers unless you do write them down especially when most festivals have hundreds of beer to sample.
IPAs in particular seem to be a hit for some, but an acquired taste for others. Any you recommend for a first timer?
IPAs are definitely one of the most popular craft beer styles around. But if you are new to the craft beer scene I would recommend easing your way into it. I would suggest starting with a Wheat, Blonde or Amber usually these style don’t tend to be as bitter and are a good place to start.