How to taste craft beer

Have you ever wanted to get into the world of craft beer, but felt like you just aren’t sure where to begin? Craft beer is a popular trend these days, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. If you think you’d like to get started enjoying it for more than just a great glass or can of beer at the local gastropub, this article has you covered. Check out our tips below to help you learn just how to go about tasting craft beer when you truly want to experience it.

Pour and warm

First of all, your beer does not need to be fridge cold, and if you get a craft beer from a restaurant it probably isn’t going to be. If the beer is in a can, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before you drink it. Pour it into a glass after it has warmed up a little bit, and don’t drink it right out of the can unless you absolutely have to for some reason. When pouring your beer, hold the glass at an angle and pour down the side until it’s about half-filled, then finish pouring as you would normally.

Hold the beer in your hands for a minute or two so your body heat will help warm it a little more. This is not always necessary, especially if the beer is completely at room temperature first. However, it can help release some of the more subtle smells and flavors that are locked away in the drink.

Look and smell

Take your time appreciating what the beer looks like. If you’ve poured it correctly, it should have at least some of a head on it (although rarely, some craft beers are designed not to have much of a head at all). Think about how the head looks. Is it frothy or thin? Is it colored at all or white? Next, move on to the color of the beer itself. Does the beer look amber, golden yellow, dark black, brown, or somewhere in between all these shades? Is it hazy or very clear? Some beer can be hazy, but if there are particles floating around in it, this may not be correct and you might want to try another pour.

Swirl the beer and then lean in to smell it. There should be natural smells including nutty aromas, pine or citrus, spicy smells, and others you may be used to when sniffing beer. However, be on the lookout for unwanted aromas too. If the beer smells like metal, vinegar, or cough syrup, then it’s probably gone bad in some way and should be discarded. To properly sniff beer, first take two very quick sniffs in. Next, take a longer sniff. Finally, open your mouth and sniff while breathing in. This is the best way to experience the full aroma of the drink.

Taste

First, make sure to cleanse your palate. Ideally, you should eat a Saltine or other similar cracker to get any other food or drink tastes out of your mouth first. A drink of water can work in a pinch, but it won’t provide you a totally clean palate to work with either.

Sip the beer, making sure to get some of the liquid under the head instead of all foam. Hold the first sip in your mouth and move it around a little to see what flavors it inspires as it hits different parts of your tongue. See if you can pinpoint the flavors associated with the smells you experienced in the previous step. If you can’t, try a few more sips (with a palate cleanser first) and give yourself more time to hold the beer in your mouth and see what flavors might be going on with it.

Think about the mouthfeel of the beer as well. This is the texture of the drink when it’s in your mouth. Some beers feel almost like wine while others feel creamy and thick. The mouthfeel can help contribute to the experience you have when you drink the beer. For example, a rich porter intended for sipping during the winter is a better experience when it has a creamy mouthfeel than it would be if it was thin and sharp like an IPA.

Swallow the drink and wait a moment to see what hits you on the aftertaste. All beers have some kind of aftertaste, and some are designed to provide a specific one. If the information you have about the beer you’re tasting mentions its aftertaste, see if you can notice it. If not, take time to really consider what you’re getting when you finish each sip of the beverage.

From there, you can continue sipping and enjoying your drink. Don’t knock it back and drink it all in one go, but take your time with each sip and contemplate the profile of the beer from start to finish. By the time you get through the glass, you should understand the beer and should be able to determine if it was pleasing to your palate or not.

So what do you think? Are you ready to get out there and get started sipping and tasting craft beer with a purpose? If so, you’re not alone. This popular trend in alcoholic beverages has many fans, and you can easily find local beers on tap and restaurants, taverns, and gastropubs almost anywhere. Check out what your local area has to offer and don’t be afraid to branch out and try some local craft beers when you go out of town, too. You may discover something you never thought you’d enjoy when you open up your mind (and palate) and sample these beers!

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