Beer Tasting: How To Improve Your Sensory Analysis

By November 11, 2016February 22nd, 2019Beer
Beer tasting

Wine isn’t the only beverage that deserves to be tasted, analyzed, and appreciated.  Beer has so many different styles, flavors, textures, and nuances that you have a plethora of options to try. Though a beer tasting can feel more “accessible” to the every day person than a wine tasting, it can still be intimidating to try to analyze what you are drinking.  Here are a few tips on how to help hone your skills and improve your sensory analysis:

Beer Tasting Tips

    • Follow Wine’s Lead. You should conduct the same tasting process as you would with wine. First, look at the beer to observe its color, head, and consistency. Next, swirl your beer to bring out the aromas, smell it, and note what scents are coming to mind. Lastly, sip the beer and let it hit your whole palate before swallowing. Pay attention to not only the flavors you are tasting but the texture and consistency.


    • Use a Flavor Wheel: Beer Tasting WheelTry to be as descriptive as possible. One way to aid in coming up with the right words is to use a flavor wheel, like this one from (Click on the image to enlarge it)


    • Make It Your Own: Visualize the flavors in a way you will remember later. Not everyone smells the exact same things. You may be able to pick up a slightly different scent than your friend. For example, you might smell banana bread while your friend might just smell banana in a certain beer. Neither of you are wrong, but the more specific the scent you can identify the better.


    • Practice Makes Perfect: Have regular training sessions to practice in a quiet, non-distracting environment will help you improve your skills.  It’s a lot of fun to try different beers and analyze them with friends but if you at a bar or restaurant where there may be other smells and disturbances, you won’t be able to concentrate on what you are trying to do.


    • Smell Your Hand: If you are trying to smell the different and intricate scents of a whole flight of beers, your nose may get fatigued.  If you feel like you are starting to not smell the nuances of the beer, try smelling your hand or arm. as long as you don’t have perfume or scented lotion on.  Your own scent is a neutralizer for your nose so after smelling


    • Keep Track.Beer tasting notes Writing down your tasting notes will help you keep track of not only your progress, but can serve as a reference for later tastings. You might find yourself tasting a beer that is similar to something you had before. You can then look through your records to find what that beer was and what you wrote down for the tasting notes to help formulate notes for the new beer.


  • Have Fun. This is probably the most important step. Beer tasting and identifying can be a lot of fun.  Don’t get frustrated if you can’t seem to clearly identify a taste or smell right away. The skills will come with experience – so you might as well enjoy the journey!


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jesse Ford says:

    Thanks for mentioning that you should have the same tasting process with beer as you do wine. My wife and I are thinking about going on a tour that tastes different types of alcohol because we want to broaden our variety when it comes to spirits. I think it’s a good investment that the excursion we choose helps us make the best decisions when selecting our next beer and wine.

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