You’re probably here because you love drinking Fresh Beer. Perhaps you’re into wine as well? Whisky? Both of these beverages are famous for professionally organised tastings and the importance of sommeliers in their respective industries. Beer was lagging behind slightly in this sense up until recently; the craft beer movement has brought about a plethora of popularised styles and flavours and there is now so much going on! We have released almost 30 unique styles of beer and cider ourselves, with many more to come!
Whether you want to get more out of trying your next pint or you want to get others involved in tasting your Fresh Beer, we’re going to tell you how to taste beer like a pro.
Serving your Fresh Beer
To experience everything the beer has to offer, you’ll need to serve it properly.
The main thing here to consider is temperature. Of course you’ll want your Pinter to be nicely chilled, but different styles are best at different temperatures. For a lager, you’ll want it served at a typical fridge temperature around 4°C, modern-style ales are best slightly warmer at about 6-8°C, and more traditional ales are best even warmer at 11-13°C. The cooler a beer, the less you can taste - something to think about next time you have an “extra cold” pint.
Choose your glassware wisely. It’s good to have a wider bottom and narrower opening at the top, (up to 2.5 inches in diameter), so that the aromas are sent directly to your nose! Finally, make sure it’s nice and clean.
There are four things to consider when you’re tasting a beer: appearance, aroma, taste, and mouthfeel. Let’s go through this all now, and we’ll use our community favourite Fresh Press, Space Hopper, as an example.
It is often said that people "drink with their eyes", so how does it look?
There are no stupid answers here. What colour is it? How’s the clarity? How’s the head retention? How’s the carbonation? These are the 4 things to look for when thinking about the appearance of a beer.
Hold the beer up to some light to get a full insight into its appearance.
Space Hopper is golden straw in colour, has a subtle haze, medium carbonation, and white head with good retention. It’s worth noting that lots of factors can affect the outcome of your Fresh Press, so yours may seem unique to other Community members’ beers, and that sensory analysis can differ from person to person.
Cover the rim of the glass, then swirl your beer around to get a nice bit of head which contains a great deal of the aroma. Then uncover and have a sniff!
A beer’s aroma can often be underappreciated. Not only that, but the smell of a beer, like anything you consume, increases its overall flavour perception.
Again, there are no stupid questions here. What do you smell? Does it remind you of anything? Perhaps fruit, floral aromas, grass, dessert?
Not every beer is supposed to have a big aroma. The less you can smell in a lager, for example, is often better.
Going back to Space Hopper, on the nose we find it has a hint of sweet malt, punchy tropical hop flavour, and distinct peach and mango character.
The step we’ve been waiting for!
It can work well to have one sip where you swallow straight away, then try holding the next one in your mouth for a moment. You want to coat your mouth so that all of your taste buds get to enjoy the sweet (or bitter, or hoppy!) nectar.
Next, you guessed it, think about what you’re tasting. Is it malt dominated such as a stout, or hop dominated like a modern IPA, or perhaps it’s in fact balanced. What else do you get from it?
Hoppy flavours include tropical, citrus, grassy, and grape flavours, whereas malty flavours include sweet, chocolate, coffee, nutty. And the list goes on!
Bear in mind that different people will experience different perceived flavours. There is no right or wrong in this.
One big difference to a stereotypical wine tasting is that we are most certainly not going to spit out our lovely Fresh Beer!
Continuing with Space Hopper, it’s hop dominated. Fruity, juicy, boozy, and sweet, with a balanced bitterness.
After you’ve got a good idea of the taste, it’s time to consider the mouthfeel.
Simply, how does it feel in your mouth and when you swallow it? How is the body of the beer and the carbonation?
Is it thin or thick, well-carbonated or near-flat?
After going through the appearance, aroma, and taste, we find that Space Hopper’s mouthfeel is full bodied with a medium-dry finish and decent carbonation.
You are now a beer tasting aficionado! Once the true sensory analysis of a beer is complete, you can now get your Fresh Beer down you at your own pace! Remember, tasting, sniffing, and everything you could describe about a beer is always subjective, and that’s OK. Different people notice different characteristics of a beer, and of course everyone will have differing overall opinions. Cheers!