In the same way there is a difference between hear and listen, we also have to differentiate between drink and taste; to drink the physical pleasure is sufficient; to taste, intelligence and preparation is also required.
Beer tasting belongs to sensorial analysis, which means it is the group of methods and techniques that allow the perception, identification and appreciation through the sensory organs, of a certain number of properties, called organoleptic, of the foods.
There are two types of tasting:
• Analytical, which describes the body and the balance of the beer.
• Hedonistic, that explains the pleasure or disgust experienced when trying a beer.
“When tasting, do not look at the bottle, or the label, or the surroundings; submerge yourself to see how your sensations are born and how your impressions are formed. Close your eyes and look with your nose, your tongue and your palate”. Pierre Poupen
When performing a tasting it is important to remember that …
• does not eat during the tasting
• does not swallow the beer
• does not wear strong perfumes
• blocks out his personal preferences
• is awake and relaxed, does not lose concentration at any time
• should be less than 12, to avoid fatigue and saturation
• should be anonymous
• try the first sample at the end
• should be at the proper temperature
• the glass should be clear and without strange odors
• the location should have good light, without sounds, with a temperature of 20-22ºC, without odors that could tarnish those of the beer, with good ventilation and relative humidity around 60%.
Sight reveals the transparency of the liquid, which gradually may have several scales of darkness, being the glass that has undergone various filters.
The darkness level indicates the degree of toasting of the grain used, the more toasted the malt, the darker the final color of the beer. The intensity of the tone can vary between white of ivory to the black of licorice in the stout beers (black).
Beer must always be sparkling and this is obtained with a good control of filters.
The appearance of a lager should be alive. If it is cloudy or masked it is due to excessive fermentation, except for wheat beer that permits a certain cloudiness because of its specific characteristics..
Thanks to the stimulation of the pituitary gland, upon taking a breath over the container, we identify the personality of the beer. The sensations received are the penetrating aroma of the malt, the fragrance of the hops and the odor of the alcohol.
Different factors come into play in the aromas of beer:
The range of aromas of the types of beer is very wide:
• Cereal types
• Variety and characteristics of the barley
• Type of yeast
• Time of storage
• Type of fermentation: when the fermentation is high the aroma is more intense, while low fermentation gives a lighter aroma.
• Bouquet: aromas of malt and/or hops
• Raw cereal: this aroma is given off in most beers made of wheat, oatmeal or rice
• Yeast: typical aroma of all beers, but especially noted in those of high fermentation
• Oak/Wood: typical aroma of beers aged in wood
• Resinous: it is said when the hops resins have provided a pleasant and refreshing sensation
• Toasted: the toasted aromas come mainly from the temperature and intensity of the toasting of the malt
• Refinement: the refinement of the aromas basically depend on the so-called second fermentation, meaning the time that the storage fermentation lasts. Normally, the longer the storage, the greater refinement
• Aromatic intensity: high fermentation beers are the most aromatic
The best way to appreciate beer fully is as follows: first take a sip of beer to moisten the moth, then another sip to taste and enjoy it more slowly so that the tongue can identify each of the characteristics of this complete beverage.
The main flavors that can be perceived in the mouth when trying beer are the following:
In this range and those derived from it, the following factors are of vital importance:
• Type of cereal
• Variety and characteristics of the barley
• Temperature of the malt toasting
• Type of fermentation
• Fermentation and storage duration
• Serving Temperature
• Serving Container
A good way to differentiate the different bitterness levels of the types of beer is by using a standard reference called B.U. (bitterness unit), that has a direct relationship with the quantity of hops with which it is mixed. Its scales varies from 10 to 100, although these extremes are exotic rarities difficult to find. The most habitual rates are between 20 and 35, with 45 being considered as too strong. Very few reach 60, as they can be rejected by unaccustomed palates.
The texture of beer may vary considerably depending on its type and quality. The variety of texture consists of “thick”, “foamy” beers, like the light-colored wheat beers, or the “compact” beers, that can be so dense that the foam can be thrown
Foam is the natural result of the stability of the beer’s components, when the carbon dioxide gas is released, for which reason it must always be served with it.
The foam should form a head about 2-3 cm thick. When the beer forms rings of foam around the sides of the container, this means that the beer is of good quality.
A good head should be white, creamy and with a good appearance.