How to Enjoy a Beer Tasting: 5 Tips from Craft Beer Experts

How to Enjoy a Beer Tasting: 5 Tips from Craft Beer Experts

Dec 01, 2023

POV: the bartender just dropped off a flight of craft beers at a brewery, and you’re unsure of where to begin. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. 

The vibrant world of craft beer can be intimidating, especially when faced with a dazzling array of unique flavors and styles. But fear not! A proper beer tasting can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, opening your palate to a whole new spectrum of deliciousness. 

Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or a curious newcomer, Brewfits is here to guide you. In this post, we've compiled five essential tips from our passionate community of beer enthusiasts to help you transform your next tasting from guesswork to an unforgettable exploration of craft beer's magic. We’ll cover:

  • The beer-tasting process
  • The flavors that make a good beer
  • Pairing beer with the right foods
  • The different types of glassware
  • Enjoying a craft beer


What Is The Beer-Tasting Process?

While there's no rigid "official" process, there is a basic framework for a truly delightful beer-tasting journey:

  • Start Light, Finish Bold: Begin with lighter-bodied beers like pilsners or lagers. These delicate styles allow your palate to adjust and appreciate the subtleties of each brew as you move towards more robust flavors.
  • Engage All Your Senses: Take a moment to appreciate the beer's appearance. Is it clear and bright, or hazy and intriguing? Swirl the glass gently to release the aroma. What notes do you pick up? Citrus? Caramel? Roasted coffee? Finally, take a sip and savor the taste. Notice the texture, the balance of flavors, and the lingering finish.
  • Unlock the Flavor Spectrum: Feeling overwhelmed by the taste profile? Utilize a "flavor wheel" as a handy tool to identify the different taste components you're experiencing. Is it a hint of floral hops, a touch of bready malt, or a burst of juicy fruit?


What Flavors Should You Look For in a Beer?

Unveiling the magic behind a delicious craft beer is all about the intricate dance of flavors—here's what to keep in mind:

First, it's about balance. A good beer is like a well-composed song, where each element plays its part without overpowering the others. The grainy sweetness of malt forms the base, complemented by the bitterness and citrusy, floral, or piney notes from hops. Fruity or spicy hints from the yeast add another layer of complexity, while the level of carbonation affects the mouthfeel and how you perceive the flavors. Even the alcohol content should be seamlessly integrated, not a harsh afterthought.

Then comes the exploration of aromas and taste. Swirl your glass and unleash a delightful bouquet of citrus, caramel, toast, or even hints of chocolate and coffee. As you sip, notice the interplay of bitterness and sweetness—and maybe you’ll detect even a touch of tartness in some styles. The mouthfeel can be light and refreshing, creamy and smooth, or thick and chewy, all contributing to the unique character of the beer. 

Finally, the finish should be clean and enjoyable, leaving you wanting another sip to delve deeper into the flavor experience. 


What Foods Should You Pair With Beers?

Pairing beer with food can be an art form in itself. Much like wine, and as a general rule to get you started: lighter beers like pilsners or wheat beers complement lighter dishes like salads or fish. As you move towards bolder styles like stouts and porters, richer foods like grilled meats or stews become a perfect match. 

However, please don't be afraid to experiment! Explore online resources or ask your friendly bartender for specific food pairing recommendations to elevate your tasting experience to new heights. Sometimes beers are crafted to specifically accompany and complement a dish served in-house.


What Is The Right Glassware For Each Type Of Beer?

The shape of the glass can significantly influence how you perceive the aroma and flavor of the beer. Let’s break it down with a quick guide:

  • Lagers & Pilsners: Pilsner Glass (tall, slender)
  • American IPA: Tulip Glass (aroma & color)
  • English IPA: Pint Glass (wider mouth for malt)
  • Wheat Beers: Weizen Glass (tall, slender, curved)
  • Stouts & Porters: Snifter Glass
  • Fruited Sour: Tulip or Snifter
  • Flanders Red & Gueuze Sours: Stein or Tulip

It’s important to note that these are just general recommendations. There's no single "correct" glass for every beer style, and some breweries may even recommend specific glassware for their unique creations. Experiment and see what you enjoy most!


How Do You Best Enjoy a Craft Beer?

  • Environment Matters: Choose a relaxed and social setting where you can focus on the beer and conversation.
  • Mind Your Temperature: Store and serve your beer at the appropriate temperature. This significantly affects the flavor profile. Most lagers and pilsners are best enjoyed cold, while stouts and porters can be savored at slightly warmer temperatures.
  • Have a Good Time: This isn't just about following rules, it's about exploration and discovery—it’s all about what you like. Don't be afraid to ask questions, experiment with different styles, and take notes on your experience. 

Ready to dive deeper? Explore the Brewfits community to find local breweries near you hosting tastings or educational events, as well as offering a fantastic selection of craft beers. Let the adventure begin!

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