OF COURSE YOU CAN DRINK A BEER.
BUT DO YOU REALLY KNOW HOW TO TASTE IT?
Head. Froth. Aroma. Mouthfeel. Finish.
Anyone who loves a great beer has some idea what these words mean, and you certainly don't have to pass a vocabulary test to enjoy a bottle or a pint. But we gotta tell you, if you take the time to think carefully about the characteristics and terms used to describe truly great beer, then a whole new world of craft-brewed enthusiasm will present itself to you, and you'll learn to love beer even more.
So, you've got a cold glass of beer in your hand and you're ready to really taste it.
Hold that glass up to the light and really give it good look. Is it pale? Golden? Brown? Red? Black? Is it clear? Cloudy? Hazy?
There's no right answer, but learning to associate colors and flavors is one of the many small pleasures of being a beer enthusiast.
Next, swirl the beer in the glass, raise the glass to your nose and inhale slowly. The bubbles that come to the top of the beer carry aromatics (literally, "distinctive smells") out of the beer. So what do you smell? Can you smell the malts? The hops? Maybe even yeast?
Now, finally, take a sip. Go ahead and swallow that one for being a good sport. Now take a second sip, but this time, breathe in through your nose while the beer is still in your mouth. Taste a difference between the first and second sips? What do you taste? Also: how does it feel as it rolls across your tongue? The same ingredients and brewing processes that give your beer a certain color and a certain taste also make it feel a certain way in your mouth.
Pretty fun, right? Keep swirling and sniffing and sipping and drinking. Don't think of it as a test, but a game.
Here are some official (not really) beer tasting terms to help you on your journey:
SCENT AND TASTE
|Malt aromas and flavors:||Hop aromas and flavors:||Yeast aromas and flavors:|
So there you have it, your first lesson in proper beer tasting. Again, it's not a test, it's a game. Having fun while exploring this world of colors, aromas and flavors (and, oh yeah, picking favorites) is part of what makes beer such a miraculous thing.
Want to learn even more about beer? Ask your Old Chicago bartender what's new or special that week.