First and foremost enjoying beer is subjective!
Each of us have a unique pallet and while some of us might love sour, sweet or spicy flavours others will dislike them. When planning a tasting the goal should be to have fun, find out what you like and not to dis anyone’s beer preferences. When we do tastings here at the brewery for “quality control” it’s a bit more involved but it all boils down to “do you like what you’re drinking” and “what about it makes you like or dislike it”.
So with that said we’ve put together a Tasting Sheet. On the left side of the sheet is a basic guide to how to think about the flavours and aromas you’re experiencing. For those who want to explore, or are trying to find more detailed words to describe what they’re tasting, on the right side of the page is the flavour wheel. This original industry standard beer tasting wheel was introduced in the 1970’s by brewing chemist Dr. Morten Meilgaard. While the wheel we’ve used is colour coded, to make it easier to read, the basics of this wheel haven’t changed much over the years.
Using this sheet doesn’t automatically mean you have to start opening a bunch of beer and do a multi beer tasting! If you are trying a new beer and it’s so darn flavourful you want to tell everyone, but you need some help articulating what you’re tasting, this sheet can help. There are also some great apps out there that help you keep track of what you’ve had and allow you to save tasting notes.
So, you want to set up a tasting? The first step is deciding how you want to do to do it. Here are some things to consider when planning.
- You need food. Most folks don’t spit out a tasting so you’re going to be consuming a fair bit of beer making food a must. Aim for finger food and snacks that are easy to munch on between drinks. You can go super casual with easy things like pretzels and chips or go fancy with cheese, crackers and chocolate.
- Not everyone will be into a tasting, there will be designated drivers and someone should remain sober, so have some non alcoholic drinks for these hero’s making sure everyone is safe. There are lots of great non alcoholic cocktails and alcohol free beers out there so show your sober hero’s some love and make sure everyone is going to be having fun.
- Keep the tasting to 3 – 6 beers. Trying too many at a time is not a good idea. The flavours will start to blend, as you drink more your taste buds can become overwhelmed.
- Start with your lightest beers like blonds and wheats. Then move into mid-range styles like IPA’s, sours and pale ales, then finally to the stronger, darker beers like porters and stouts.
- If you are comparing the same style of beer aim to get similar flavour profiles. Trying to compare say a classic porter with a porter that is infused with raspberries and chocolate doesn’t work so well. When comparing beers in the same style we also suggest arranging the lighter percentage alcohol beers are at the beginning of the tasting and move on to the stronger percentages at the end.
- May we also suggest a palate cleanser of water between tastings. The water is going to help you to better be able to differentiate between subtle flavours and two it will help you stay hydrated.
- Last but not least have fun and enjoy your tasting responsibly.