|University of Atlantia||Master Terafan Greydragon|
|2 December AS XXXemail@example.com|
Why Evaluate Beer ?
"How to" evaluate beer
- Beer can be evaluated using the flavor profile as a guide to step through the process
- The most obvious (and the real bottom line) is the taste.
- Before that, however, you must train all your senses to notice additional aspects that may help identify certain characteristics
What is the Flavor Profile?
- Appearance (Visual examination)
- Aroma/Bouquet (Olfactory examination)
- Taste (In the mouth examination)
- Overall impression (General quality)
Use all six senses
Many of these go hand-in-hand with the flavor profile, i.e.
- Touch and feel
Appearance with sight
Aroma/Bouquet with Smell
Taste with Taste
Overall impression with Pleasure
- Head space in the bottle (Excessive headspace is an indication that air content may be high. Oxidized flavor and aroma may follow.)
- Surface deposit inside the bottle neck (Surface deposits indicate bacterial or wild yeast contamination)
- Haze (Haze may be an indication of bacterial contamination or just protein-tannin compound)
- Legs (Legs (when pouring a barley or doppelbock) will be indicated on the sides of the glass)
- Foam stability (Lack of foam stability indicates old, stale, and oxidized beer)
- Head retention. (Head retention is largely a matter of preference. Generally speaking, NO HEAD or EXCESSIVE HEAD (to interfere with drinking) are equally undesirable. Brews with all barley malt and lots of hops (esp fresh) tend to have creamier heads. )
- Clarity (Some beers are not meant to be clear. If a bottle conditioned beer is being considered for clarity, it must be poured carefully to not disturb the sediment.)
Smell - (Aroma/Bouquet)
- Phenolic character
- Aroma from malt, grain, and fermentation
- Bouquet directly attributable to hops
- Odor - (Sulfur based compounds/oxidation)
The most sensitive and telling sense is the sense of smell. However, our smell detectors quickly become anesthitized to whatever we are smelling.
The aroma should be quickly assessed. Swirl the beer in the glass so volatiles and aromatics will change from liquid to gas, carried by molecules of carbon dioxide.
Some aspects are so volatile that they disappear very quickly, esp sulfur based compounds, like DMS.
The aroma of beer can be defined as the smell of beer relative to the malt, grain, and fermentation byproducts. The most common aromas are those of malty sweetness, caramel, toffee, roasted, toasted, or chocolate. Malt contributes indirectly to may other aromas that are the result of fermentation.
The bouquet of beer can be defined as the aromatics that hops contribute to beer. The bouquet of beer will vary to a great degree. When present it can be described as flowery, spicy, pungent, etc.
Odors may be attributed to defects in the beer. Defective beer can be the result of mishandling (extreme temperature changes or agitiation), bacterial contamination, oxidation or being light struck.
Where do we perceive each of the following:
- Bitterness* - on the back of the tongue
- Sweetness - on the tip
- Sourness* - on the sides of the tongue
- Saltiness - just to rear and sides of tip
* 15-20% of Americans confuse bitter and sour.
How does beer affect the sensation of taste
- Bitterness - Hops, Tannins, Malt, Minerals
- Sweetness- Malt, Hops, Esters, Diacetyl
- Sourness- Carbonation, Contamination
- Saltiness - Minerals
Bitterness - The degree of bitterness can be influenced by:
Sweetness - The degree of sweetness can be influenced by:
Sourness - The degree of sourness is proportional to the acidity of the beer and can be influenced by
Saltiness - The degree of saltiness is influenced by
Touch and Feel
- Texture - creamy, over/under carbonated
- Body - full bodied or thin...
- Astringency - Dry, puckery feeling (Not really a flavor)
- Others - Oily, menthol-like, burning, etc
The tactile feel of bubbles in the mouth perceptibly determines the degree of carbonation. The feel of bubbles can also vary with the ingredient used.
A big and explosive bubble feeling in the mouth is due to the use of fermentable ingredients other than barley malt. A beer made with all barley malt will tend to have a smaller bubble feeling (almost a creamy sensation) in your mouth.
The body is literally how a beer feels in your mouth, FULL or LIGHT. The unfermented sugars and dextrins contribute to the degree of fullness.
DEXTRINS -Unfermentable carbohydrates that add to body. Technically 4 or more glucose molecules linked together.
This is the most personal and subjective category, but probably the most important to consider
- Overall impression
- Close your eyes- Is it memorable?
- Would you want another one?
Your own genetic make up can have a distinct impact on this, as well as the time of day, time of year, activity level... After biking several miles, who wants a heavy rich stout, or on a cold evening are you really in the mood for a light pils?
Even if you dont like a stout or pilsener, you can still appreciate it for what it is meant to be for others.
Maximizing Flavor Perception
- As your taste buds become used, it is harder and harder to identify light or weak flavors
- Begin with lighter styles and progress to darker, more full bodied beer
- Dont smoke or be in a smoky room
- Do not eat salty or greasy food while tasting
- Do not wear lipstick or Chapstick
- Eat french bread or saltless crackers to cleanse palate
- Use clean glassware !!
My recommendation is to use the following sequence
- Examine bottle for sediment
- Pour the beer
- Quickly sniff the beer
- Examine the beer in the glass
- Certain beers should have sediment, others should not. Export class should NOT have ANY sediment.
- Pour about 4-6 oz of beer to create a 3/4 in. thick head. Do not fill the glass more than 2/3 full.
- Volatile aromatics (e.g. dry hopping nose) do not linger and must be caught right after pouring. Take 2-3 quick whiffs, swirl the beer, and take several more short sniffs.
- For a period of approximately one minute, examine the beer for color, clarity, gas release and head condition and stability.
- Gas bubbles should be small, compact, and continue to be released. If the room is quiet, you can listen for the sound of foam disintegration, which should be a series of clicks, not a steady buzz
- Head condition and stability. After a one minute period, the head should have collapsed less than 50%.
- Aroma (non-hop odors from raw materials)
- Bouquet (odor from fermented elements)
- Hop nose (hop aroma of beer)
Aroma - Low hopped American beers and dark lagers and brown ales will have the
greater aromatic intensities.
Hop nose - Should have a distinct or neutral hop character, and you should be able to detect it.
Negative odors should not be present.
- Taste in the mouth
- Take a good sip
- Swirl and slosh around your whole mouth
- "Swizzle" the beer. (This means to suck in a little bit of air through the beer in your mouth)
- Small sip to check 4 tastes
- Check Astringency
- Check after-taste or tail
- General Quality
- Memorableness or "come hither appeal"
General quality - Does the beer make you want to have another?
The taste of beer
- Hop Quality - There should be a good varietal taste, smell, and aftertaste. Pronounced, moderate, lacking as appropriate
- Hop Intensity - should be correct for the type of beer
- Sweet/dry balance - Balance should be appropriate.
- Beer character -Sum of the non-hop, non-sweet/dry characteristics of beer. Malt and grain character, fruit flavors, special nuances, and spices. Excessive bitterness, astringency, harsh flavors?
- Aftertaste or tail - Some hop character may linger along with other flavors. Should be pleasant and disappear fairly soon. Lingering bitterness, off-tastes, etc ?
- Body and palatefullness - alcohol character and richness of the beer. Vinous, neutral, sweet, bland, rough, smooth, etc
- Flavor balance - How is the beer "supposed" to taste compared to how it DOES taste?
- Becoming a knowledgeable beer drinker takes practice
- Taste, smell, feel, and look at your product during every step
- Evaluate the beer as it ages
- What sulfur characters come and go ?
- Which phenolic characters get worse with age ?
- How does bitterness and diacetyl rise and fall ?
The most important thing in learning how to evaluate beer....
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!
Papazian, Charlie, The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Avon Books, New York, 1991
Eckhardt, Fred, Essentials of Beer Style, Fred Eckhardt Associates, Portland, OR 1989
Jackson, Michael, Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993
Papazian, Charlie, The Home Brewers Companion, Avon Books, New York, 1994
Robertson, James D. The Connoisseurs Guide to Beer, Jameson Books, Ottowa, IL
Mosher, Randy, The Brewers Companion, Alephenalia Publications, Seattle, WA, 1995
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