Neues Jahr, neues Glück, noch mehr Arbeit. Aber bald hab ich es geschafft: ich glaube, ich muß bloß noch drei Kolumnen über Bier schreiben. Eigentlich bloß noch zwei, denn ein Artikel ist schon wieder fällig geworden…
How do I judge a beer?
„This beer tastes like horse piss“ might be your personal opinion about a particular brand of beer, but it is certainly not a statement that adequately describes a beer to somebody – unless you drink horse urine all the time and know what you’re talking about.
Judging a beer is not about whether you like the beer or not, it should be an unbiased description of the taste and the appearance of a beer.
To adequately describe a beer it needs a lot of training and a lot of imagination. Your sight is just as important as your smell, while your taste sense is of course the most important.
You should also get some knowledge about the four ingredients that make up a good beer: what is malt, what different types of malts exist and what do they taste like? How does the hop make beer bitter, and what other properties does it have? What types of yeast exist, and what flavor profiles do they elicit in a beer? Were any other ingredients used in the production? And finally you need to know what a specific type of beer is supposed to taste like (the so called „beer styles“).
Some beers on this planet might not be even close to what you think a beer should taste like – just think of the „Berliner Weisse“ which is typically fermented with lactic acid, giving it an intense sour taste (so sour that it is usually sweetened with raspberry or woodruff syrup).
Make sure the glass you are about to use is clean. It should be a simple, cylindrical and thinly walled clear glass so you can properly evaluate the colour, the carbonation, the foam and the clarity of the beer. Next smell the beer and find out what it reminds you of. Sweet and grainy smells are caused by the malt. Bitter, floral, grassy or citrussy flavors originate from hops.
Now it is time to take the first sip. The mouthfeel is usually classified into light, medium or full bodied and depends on the residual amount of dextrins (sugars) in the beer. Now try to define the taste even more: is the malt sweetness or the hop bitterness dominant? Or are they well balanced? And, very important, does the flavor fit the flavor profile?
After swallowing, what taste does it leave behind? Sweet or bitter, lingering or gone immediately, pleasant or unpleasant? This part is called the finish of the beer.
Take notes and discuss your results with your buddies. Beer judging can be a lot of fun, but don’t exaggerate: max. two or three different beers at at time, then your palate needs a little rest!
And: don’t judge (drink) and drive!
Uff, bloß noch zwei… ich tue mich schon schwer damit, mir so blödelige Themen auszudenken! Falls jemand Vorschläge hat…? :-)