Beer Tasting 101

Tips for getting the most from your brew.

Most people knock back beer quickly, usually to get it down before it warms to the point of being able to taste it. But there is an art to tasting good beers. Most of your senses should be engaged in the experience — not in a snobby, pinky-lifting-discussion-of-terroir way, but in a fashion that allows you to fully enjoy the craftsmanship of the brew. Here are some simple ways to expand your appreciation for beer.

Look at it. Admire the color and clarity (or lack thereof).

Smell it. Swirl it around in the glass and then take a big noseful of the aroma. Your sense of smell can contribute up to 90 percent of what you taste. What do you smell? Coffee? Pine? Fruit? Spice?

Taste it. Let it coat your tongue and swallow slowly. Take another sip. How does it feel in your mouth? Smooth? Effervescent? Chalky? Is it sweet? Tart? Bitter?

There is so much variety to beer, that no two beers will be exactly the same. The most important thing to remember is that beer is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t let yourself get caught up in “doing it right,” and forget the reason you are drinking it — the pleasure of a well-crafted beer.