Beer Tasting Tips

Beer tasting is an art. Most people recognize “wine” connoisseurs and wine tasting parties. A lot of people who do not know or understand beer, think beer comes from a cold bottle; you swig it; gulp it down, and say, “Ahhh, that’s a good beer. Grab me another one.”

Tips for becoming a beer connoisseur. 
The number one rule is that not all beers are the same. There are different styles. There are three basic beer categories; ale, lager and hybrid. The category of beer is based on how long and what temperature each beer ferments. Ale ferments quickly at a higher temperature and lager ferments slowly at lower temperatures. Hybrid beers have not been sorted into a category.

Tips to tasting beer.

1. After you drink the beer, ask yourself if you liked it well enough to buy a bottle.

2. Make a list of the beers you are tasting. Put a plus sign for beers you like and a minus sign for those you do not like.

Before tasting preparation

Serve all great beers in glassware. You would not chug a fine wine from the bottle.

Store and Serve the beer at the recommended temperatures for the different types (as suggested by Michael Jackson, a well-respected beer tester).

*Pale lagers – well chilled (7 C, / 45 F.)

*Wheat beers – chilled (8C,/47 F.)

*Dark lagers, – lightly chilled (9 C,/48 F.)

*British ale, stout, Belgian specialities – cellar (13 C,/55 F.)

*Strong dark ales (Trappist beers – made in a monastery), barley wine beer – room temperature (15.5 C,/60 F.)

Pouring the beer – an important aspect is to have a head on your beer. The volatile (head) contains the aroma of the beer.

Use a clean glass (be sure there is no soap residue left on it. Rinse it well)

Hold your glass at a 45 angle. Hold the bottle away from the glass (it should not touch the rim of the glass). Pour until tipped glass is half-full. Straighten the glass, and pour in the middle of the glass. You want to have a head that is one to two fingers high. Different beers need different pouring techniques (thank you, Michael Jackson).


Pour a gentle, steady stream down the side of the tilted glass. This will keep the beer from excessive foam. Steepen the angle as you are pouring. Have only one finger of foam. You want to be able to smell the aroma of the ale.


Pour slowly to allow the head to grow. You want to have a creamier head so that you can taste the strong flavor of the stout.


There are small bubbles called “bead” that arise from the carbonation of the pilsner. The beads form a head that should rise above the rim. You will be able to enjoy the hops aroma and avoids the bitter aroma from coming to the fore.

The best part – Tasting

Appearance – Most judges do not give many points on the appearance of the beer. You look for color. You do not hold your glass up to the light as this distorts the color. You are judging the beer by its clarity, color and head.

Aroma – This is where judging takes on more points. Put your nose close to the head and inhale deeply (not too close – you do not want to have the head going up your nose). The aroma or bouquet foretells the flavor.

Flavor – As you can imagine, flavor is subjective. The main tastes that we can sense when drinking are the bitter, sour, salty and sweet.. Since our palates have different areas of each one of those tastes, you have to swirl the beer in our mouths to pick up the flavors. Flavor of beer is also dependent upon other variables. The aroma of food cooking, or the lingering taste of what we just ate. It is important to clean the palate before tasting. Bland crackers can help clean you palate.

Texture – This is important and subjective. Some beers feel creamy in our mouth; astringency makes us want to pucker; a full-bodied feel or light feel depends on carbonation in the beer. Too much carbonation reminds us of soda pop. Light carbonation reminds us of champagne.

As you become adept at beer tasting, you will be able to distinguish all the above tips, and add some of your own. Enjoy your brew.