Beer Skill 101: Tasting Beer

Hello fellow beer lovers,

A Freshly Poured Delirium Tremens
A Freshly Poured Delirium Tremens

Beer is a drink that spans hundreds of styles and various ingredients. Thus, tasting beer is a great skill to have if you are a beginning beer enthusiast. It is obvious to everyone that there is a huge difference between a brew such as Cerveza Negra and a Pale Pilsen. The problem is, how do you prove it?

First off, tasting is definitely the most obvious answer to determine the difference between one beer and the other. Obviously Cerveza Negra is black and Pale Pilsen is yellow. The appearance of the beer will give a general idea of the taste of the beer but that will be discussed in a future article. For now, the focus will be solely on taste.

Below is the link to one of the best videos out there for tasting and pouring beer. The reuse of this video for this article is now solely focused on the tasting of the beer. Watching the whole video is recommended but for the purposes of this article. Watching at 1:30 and beyond is satisfactory.

Tasting beer will require a good pour. Check out the previous article, The Beer Pour (, for reference.

After the pour, a smelling the aromas of the beer should be done before actually tasting it. Smelling food and beverages provides a general sense of how the taste is. It is an evolutionary mechanism that was developed to determine if food is suitable for consumption or not. For gastronomy, smelling the aromas heighten the taste and flavors. It’s a normal thing to do with coffee, wine and fine whisky, why not with good beer?

After smelling the beer, tasting the beer is the next part of the agenda. I recommend to sip the beer first. After sipping, let the beer settle on your tongue and twirl it around your palate. Let the flavors settle on your tongue, gums and even the teeth. After the first sip, increase the tasting to trying out a larger sip.

If possible, try to write down the flavors of the beer that are present. In the case of the beers discussed earlier, the Cerveza Negra is a beer on the sweeter side with slight caramel notes and hints of bitterness towards a balanced finish. The Pale Pilsen’s taste is more on the maltier and biscuity (somewhat close to the flavor of graham crackers) with a sharper minty and bitter finish.

Next time you’re out drinking, try pouring your beer on a glass. After that, twirl it a little and smell afterwards. Take small sips while bringing the beer around your palate. Try to understand the balance of flavors on your palate. Maybe you’ll find an interesting tasting note that you didn’t notice before.

Beerman out!

For a good orientation on how taste and smell works check out this site:
It’s more of a scientific approach due to the medical approach but it’s a good primer.

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