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A Guide to Tasting Beer

a cup of coffee and a glass of beer on a table

Beer tasting can be a lot of fun, whether you’re doing it with a guide or with your own friends. To truly appreciate the beer you’re tasting though, it helps to know more about the different types and styles of beer. You’ll also want to know what characteristics to look for in each type of beer so you can describe them in detail. To help you understand all the types, styles, and characteristics of beer, we’ve put together a simple guide to tasting beer.

Types of Beer

Although there are countless types of beer you can drink from lagers to pilsners to IPAs, and stouts, they fall into 2 main styles – ales and lagers. The yeast and brewing method is what makes the two styles different.

The most common type of beer is lager. It is brewed at a lower temperature and is stored for several months while it ferments. The yeast collects at the bottom of the tank during fermentation, creating a smooth flavor. This crisp, refreshing flavor makes it an ideal introductory beer for newbies.

Ales are brewed at a higher temperature and are aged for a short time. The yeast gathers at the top of the tank during fermentation. Because of this process, ales tend to be more fruity in taste. One of the most popular ales is the India Pale Ale. An IPA is brewed with more hops, which gives it a unique flavor.

Tasting the Beer

That gives you a general idea of the main types of beer, but when you go to a beer tasting, you’re there to taste and enjoy each beer. If you truly want to appreciate each beer you try, here are some general guidelines for beer tasting.

Use A Glass
You don’t want to taste the beer when it’s too cold. And you also don’t want to be tasting a mouth full of foam. The best way to pour is to hold the glass at a 45-degree angle while your pour. This will ensure your glass has just the right amount of foam.

Before you taste the beer, take a few minutes to observe its color and appearance. Is it dark or light? Does it have a rich color or is it paler?

Smell The Aroma
Just like you smell wine at a wine tasting first, you want to smell the aroma of your beer before you take a sip. When you take a sip, you want to note the different aromas in the beer — whether it’s sweet and fruity, or sharp and bitter.

What does it taste like? Swirl it around in your mouth and pay close attention to the characteristics of the flavor. Is there a hint of fruitiness in it? Or perhaps the flavor is sharp and bitter? Or does it have a mild, light, refreshing flavor?

How does it feel? Some beers are heavy, some are light, and some beers have a lot of carbonation. High alcohol beer can cause your mouth to feel warm and tingly when you drink it. Don’t just describe what the beer tastes like; describe the sensations you feel in your mouth when you take a sip.

There are just a few guidelines for tasting beer. If you want to taste some of the best craft beers that Southern California has to offer, Best Coast tours can take you to them. We offer guided brewery tours in Orange County and San Diego. You will enjoy tasting all the great flavors, and we take care of the work.