How to taste beer

There is an amazing range of beers on offer, such as bitters, old ales, milds and stouts, so after a tasting a few you are sure to develop your own preferred flavours, whether they are chocolatey stouts or light floral golden ales.

A feast for the senses

Tasting beer doesn’t just depend on the taste; use your eyes and nose first before you take a sip. If it looks good, chances are it’ll taste good. It should be colourful and bright, and if it’s meant to have a significant head of froth this should be thick and creamy. But a creamy head is not an essential for a good beer-many beers, from the South of England especially, are not brewed to be served with a head. Remember also that some beers, such as wheat, may be cloudy, but these too should look attractive, not flat or dull.

Generally, look for a bright, clear beer with no sediment in the glass. Now take a sniff. The best way is to half-fill your glass with beer, so there’s plenty room to swirl, place the glass very close to your nose and inhale deeply. You’ll soon be able to recognise the light hoppy scent of a classic pale ale, or the banana nose of a wheat beer.

The initial taste

Finally you can have a taste. Take your time over your first sip, and notice the sweetness from the malts at the front of your mouth, and dry bitter hops at the back as you swallow, then enjoy the finishing aftertaste.

Just like wine, beers have their own unique complexities and characteristics from the style, the ingredients and the recipe. Beers are a wonderful accompaniment to food, so don’t reserve the dining table for wine alone. Soon you’ll be able to appreciate the various styles and develop your own personal favourites.

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