This is a short simple but life changing blog. It really is eye opening or pallete opening. I’m going to quickly tell you what it’s about.
Aeration: what do you do with a red wine when you are tasting it? Pull in air in a gurgling sound when it’s in your mouth. This adds air to the liquid and thus opening it up giving you more flavour that you may have had to wait a few hours with the bottle open or decanting otherwise.
There’s a congruent method for beer tasting and it’s far more interesting and flavour changing. The only reason we (currently) see wine as more sophisticated than beer is because of the Romans, what have the Romans ever done for us you ask? Well, they had the climate for grapes. The north of Europe had it for grain. The money was in the south and so we all see.
That as the distinguished tipple for the upper class. If the money was in the North at a time during such a cultural revolution then we’d all be in a very different place.
Anyhow… please read these steps a few times, then think about it, then read again, and then…. try the method.
1: Beer into mouth: note the mouthfeel. you can’t taste a whole lot at this stage. There might be a few stand out flavours if quite strong.
2: With beer in mouth: breath in through nose. Expanding your lungs.
3: Keep your mouth closed! Swallow the beer.
4: Now, this is the moment of joy. Breathe slowly out your nose while still keeping your mouth closed. You may make a chamber in your mouth to allow the taste euphoria consume your palate.
5: Enjoy the fact that you’ve changed the way you taste beer forever!
What’s happening? Well remember how you aerated the wine? Well there’s bubbles in the beer so the air is already there. When you swallow the bubbles pop releasing more flavours and aromas. If you drank the usual way these flavours would struggle to get back into your mouth where all your taste and flavour receptors are (taste and flavour: very different things… another time I’ll talk about that).
Try this with a beer you’ve had many times. Make sure to complete the steps correctly, many people open the mouth when breathing out or get the sequence wrong. Once you do it right, you’ll know. For best effects do it with a decent beer you’ve had many times, if you do it with a lager, you won’t get much of a response. Why? Because there is negligible flavour in lager. That’s the point of it, no flavour so you don’t think about it and therefore drink it faster, therefore giving the brewer more money! It’s not a nice feeling consuming something that is specifically designed to be so bland only so that you’ll consume and spend more on.
Yes, a lager has it’s place. A good lager can be a lovely thirst quencher on a hot sunny day. But if you live in a climate like Ireland then that’s a rarity. So to hell with the Romans, their aqueducts, taxes, healthcare and tasteless faceless beer.
Some helpful links to learn more:
Randy Mosher discusses how to taste beer on beer smith podcast.
What is the difference between taste and flavour?
Tasting beer by Randy Mosher
BJCP beer tasting scorecard: for judging but great template to learn from
Mark Dredge's Beef flavour wheel: excellent tool for tasting beer