This may seem like a silly thing to ask, but do you really know how to taste your beer? Here we are, surrounded by brewers creating some amazing things, and here sit so many people who have never been taught to really taste what’s going on in their glass.
There is a lot more to drinking a beer than just pouring it down your throat (not that if that’s what you want to be doing with your beer I will ever tell you not to.) I think, though, that the biggest thing that people forget to do when tasting is simply not taking their time. There’s nothing better than opening your beer and watching it cascade out. Enjoy the beer.
Savor the moment you crack open that bottle, or the can for that matter. Watch the beer flow out into your glass (You are drinking out of proper glassware, right?) Now take a minute to just look at your beer. Look at it in different lights around you. Observe its color. What’s the head look like? Is it foamy, fizzy? Thick, or wispy?
Now stick your nose in that glass. Breathe it in. Take a breath of fresh air, and breathe in the beer again. What smells do you get? Bread? Coffee? Corn? There’s a lot of different smells that can come from a beer. What’s going on in there? Most of what we perceive as taste is in fact things that we are smelling. So savor the smells, and make note of them.
Now the best part, drink. Let the beer roll around in your mouth, playing on different parts of your tongue. What’s it feel like in your mouth, thick or grainy? Light and crisp? Make note of those smells again, what do you get now that you didn’t get before now that it’s rolling around in your mouth?
Take your time with the beer, let it warm up as you drink it, you’ll be surprised at how the flavors change as the temperature does. Some beers really start to shine as they warm up, and some not so much. This experimentation is part of what makes this hobby so much fun. Even where you are sitting and what you are doing will effect the experience of what your beer “tastes” like. So play with it, have fun!
For more information, the best book ever (In my Gnarly opinion) that explores the real art of tasting, and how to pick out flavors and whatnot is Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher go pick it up!