I have to admit that every time I have a craft beer in front of me, my favorite kind of tasting is the purely hedonistic one. And for that reason, unless the beer has considerable defects or I am involved in an evaluation exercise, I prefer drinking without any further pretensions than enjoying it and having a good time, both at home and at the bar.
But this does not mean that it is not important to pay attention to a few details.
We all know that craft beer is a beverage that produces sensations, mainly due to its enormous sensorial complexity. In order to maximize the experience and to understand the greatness of this elixir a bit more, I have summarized in five points a few easy tips that will help you raise your future tastings to the next level!
1. SMELL IT IMMEDIATELY
The first sniff must be immediate, because there are highly volatile aromatic components in a craft beer that disappear quickly after opening the bottle or the can and will be impossible to retrieve. We rarely pay attention to this, but if we do, we will be able to discover very subtle and interesting aromas.
The next step, once the beer is poured into the glass, is to analyze its visual appearance. To do this, we have to distinguish two types of analysis: foam (color, density, persistence and adhesions) and beer (color: yellow, gold, amber, etc., and the level of transparency/ turbidity). Easy right?
3. AROMA. SMELL AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME IN THE GLASS
We have already poured our beer, and now it is time to see what comes through after a few quick sniffs. On the one hand we check for some of the typical descriptors according to the type of malt used (bread, flour, grain, pastries, caramel, coffee, chocolate, etc.). On the other hand we look for the notes of the hops added to give the aromas (herbaceous, floral, citrus, balsamic, fruity, etc.), and finally finding classic expressions of yeast and fermentation (esters that give off aromas of banana, pear, apple, pineapple or lollipop, clove-like phenols, smoke, etc.). Keep in mind that some of these descriptors can be more dominant than others, but with training we will be able to smell secondary elements that do not usually appear in such an obvious way.
Now, the most anticipated moment: the first sip. It is recommendable to first take only a small sip to clean our palate before starting to explore the profiles of the malt (sweetness) and the hops (bitterness) through taste. In this phase we can find any of the five basic flavors: sweet, bitter, salty, acid (lactic or acetic) or umami, which can evoke a host of notes, both familiar and surprising (piney, resinous, ripe fruit, tropical, stone fruit, biscuit, nuts, caramel, wood, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.). It is also important to take into account the finish and the endurance of each flavor once we have swallowed, as well as its presence and the intensity of the aftertaste.
5. MOUTHFEEL / TEXTURE
To finish the tasting we just need to define the mouthfeel and texture of our beer. For this we look at aspects such as its creaminess or roughness, its unctuosity, carbonation, if it is more or less watery, or its astringency (which we could define as a mixture of intense dryness and bitterness, usually not very pleasant).
After the whole tasting process, we can already draw our first conclusions, but above all we do not have to forget the most important thing: enjoying the whole journey!