Tasting Beer: A Journey to Becoming a Beer Connoisseur




As someone who enjoys an occasional beer, I never realized how complex and nuanced beer could be until I read Tasting Beer. This in-depth guide expanded my beer knowledge tremendously and equipped me with techniques to truly appreciate and analyze the flavors of different beers.

Join me as I share my key learnings from Tasting Beer and how it has enhanced the way I taste and evaluate beer. Grab your favorite frosty pint and let’s delve into becoming true beer connoisseurs!

My Beginner Beer Drinking Days

Like many, my early experiences with beer were in college, drinking whatever cheap keg beer was available at parties. As long as it was cold and got the job done, I didn’t care about taste. It wasn’t until after college when I started occasionally trying craft beers that I realized there was more to beer than getting a quick buzz. The intricate malty, hoppy flavors showed me beer could be nuanced too. This intrigued me to learn more about actually tasting and appreciating beer.

Developing a Tasting Process

Tasting Beer first opened my eyes to the major elements that contribute to a beer’s overall flavor profile. These include:

  • Appearance – Color, clarity, head retention
  • Aroma – Malt, hops, yeast, fermentation scents
  • Flavor – Sweetness, bitterness, acidity, alcohol
  • Mouthfeel – Body, carbonation, astringency

By teaching how to systematically evaluate each sensory facet, the book gave me the tools to critically taste and describe any beer in detail. I felt empowered to detect subtle nuances I’d never noticed before.

Beer Types and Styles

Another section of the book breaks down the flavor profiles associated with major beer types and styles:

  • IPAs – Bursting hoppiness, tropical or citrusy flavors
  • Stouts – Roasty malt creating chocolate and coffee notes
  • Sours – Tart and funky with bright acidic twang
  • Wheat Beers – Light, bright, and fruity flavors
  • Lagers – Crisp, clean maltiness and restrained bitterness

Understanding the signature traits of styles gives me guidance on what to expect when tasting. I can now pick out distinguishing characteristics in the glass.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Of course, craft beer demands great food pairings. Tasting Beer provides helpful suggestions:

  • Hoppy IPAs with spicy foods
  • Roasted stouts with rich meats or desserts
  • Belgian sours with cheese or seafood
  • Crisp lagers with chicken, salad, or fish
  • Wheat beers with salad, cheese, or lemon/lime flavors

These recommendations have helped me immensely in deciding which brews will complement different dishes best. My beer dinners have been taken to the next level!

Practicing the Art of Beer Tasting

One of the most valuable parts of the book are the tasting exercises designed to develop your palate and descriptive vocabulary.

Some fun activities include:

  • Blind taste test of several beers – can you identify key traits?
  • Taste well-known commercial beers as benchmarks
  • Taste variables like malt roasts, hop differences, yeast strains
  • Practice using specific tasting terminology and descriptors

Putting the tasting techniques into practice has sharpened my palate remarkably. I’m picking out subtle nuances I never noticed before.

Continuing My Beer Education

While this book has elevated my beer knowledge immensely, I know there is always more to learn in the world of beer. Here are some next steps I’m excited about in continuing my journey:

  • Touring local breweries to see beer production up close
  • Trying rare beer styles I’m still unfamiliar with
  • Attending formal beer tasting classes for more training
  • Reading more beer history and style guides
  • Visiting iconic beer countries and regions worldwide
  • Joining a beer tasting club to share discoveries with other enthusiasts

The more I learn, the more humbled and enthralled I am by the diversity in beer. Equipped with the insights from Tasting Beer, I feel prepared to continue expanding and refining my palate. Savoring a well-crafted beer now feels like an immersive sensory experience. I can’t wait to see where this journey leads me next!


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