For drinkers who want to dive into the craft beer world, BDU quite simply suggests to just start tasting beers in order to develop your palate, vocabulary, and knowledge.
Simply Taste the beer, note what you taste and smell without using the BDU tasting sheet. (Click Here)
Once you’ve gotten a grasp on how to pick out flavors, use the BDU tasting sheet and drink while you read through the taste sheet. You should be able to taste a hint of some the characteristics mentioned in the Tasting Sheet.
So how do we learn to taste beer in a way that allows us to learn something new each time? Let’s get started!
First and foremost, tasting beer should be fun. It can be as simple as having a drink with your buddies or as complex as gathering a notebook and pen. But if you plan on having different beers, make sure to have water on hand to rinse out your mouth (and your beer glasses!) and to stay hydrated. You may also want to have “dump buckets” nearby where you can pour out unwanted beer. A kitchen sink will do.
Try not to taste more than seven beers. After seven, you may start to experience palate fatigue, which is not really fun at all! I doubt you’ll be limiting yourself to 2-3 ounce pours when drinking with friends, so be extra mindful that you aren’t going over the limit for your blood alcohol or your palate.
If you’re drinking out of a glass or bottle, pour it into a clear glass so you can get a good look at it. A clear Solo cup, A pint glass, and even a wine glass will work. Note the color of the beer, which can range from straw-colored to black. This is called the Standard Reference Method (SRM) color. (See the Tasting Sheet) Can you see through the beer, or is it opaque or hazy? If you can get some head on it, note the color of that as well.
For homebrewed beer, you may want to exam the bottle before you pour the beer. Is the bottle filled to the top? If not, that may explain oxidation that causes stale beer. Rings around the inside of the bottle may point to a bacterial infection. And for certain bottle-conditioned beer, homebrew or commercial, you may find yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which you can drink or not, depending on your preference.
Smell is extremely linked to taste, so smelling your beer gives you clues on how it will taste. Stick your nose in the glass and get a few whiffs of your beer. Go ahead and give it a swirl before you stick your nose in if you’re having trouble getting some of the aromas.
Get into it, take quick sniffs. Linger on any “memory flashbacks” you have, as they may help you remember what aroma is triggering the memory. This is supposed to be fun!
Mouthfeel & Taste
After looking and smelling, you can finally put that glass/cup to your lips and take a sip… but wait! Now that the beer is in your mouth, let it linger on your tongue.
What’s important for this phase is to wait and allow the beer’s characteristics to come out. Certain tastes like bitterness “build more slowly” than others. How carbonated or bubbly is the beer? Is the body light or heavy bodied? Does it feel astringent or “oily”? What we’re answering here is the mouthfeel of the beer.
While you savor and exam that, you should also note sweetness, acidity, and whatever else you taste. Do you taste any fruit? If so, which? What about smoky, sweet, or roasted? Do any of the aromas you noted earlier come out in the flavor?
Once you swallow, how long does the taste remain in your mouth? Does it feel smooth or harsh? What are some of the lingering flavors? Note anything that comes to mind. Does the beer remind you of the bad taste you have in the morning? Does it make you happy? Did it make you cringe? As you experience more tastings, have you had a beer like this before?
If you’re doing your tastings with the BDU Tasting Sheet in front of you, ask yourself how the beer fits or doesn’t fit into the characteristics that you may or may not circle on the sheet.
It’s recommended to be tasting and comparing beer with friends. Since people have different thresholds for different flavors, what one friend tastes another may not. But more importantly Beer is much more fun when enjoyed with friends.
Congratulate yourself. You’ve just done your first beer tasting!
Don’t limit yourself to just beer. Be mindful of the aromas and flavors around you. Try it with wine or even with food. Taste is subjective but analyze what you are tasting and identify what you like or dislike. It’s a personal experience that can be shared yes, but it’s still subjective to you and cherish that. Commit it to memory and thus , you will get better at tastings beers and identifying their distinctiveness. But most importantly: Have Fun!
Oh and of course: Drink responsibly…..