An outing with friends. A Thursday evening or any other day. A brewery not too far from home. A chat that, in the best of cases, becomes a memorable evening.
Beer agrees with everyoneOf course, there are those who prefer wine, but after all, there is a time for everything. Wine calls for a more formal, more elegant moment – if you like. Beer, on the other hand, can adapt to any context. When you think of beer, you immediately think of mugs filled to the brim, with lots of foam, and smiling people toasting, happy, to the joy of being together! Think of St Patrick’s Day, the Oktoberfest where beer is the queen of an iconic day for Irish, Germans, and people from all over the world. A time to celebrate, to meet and have fun, the wildest! But today, just like on a Thursday night, in a more chilled atmosphere, I want to talk to you about beer as a cult. I want to talk to enthusiasts and the simply curious who want to make a good impression with friends at the pub. Today we are talking about tasting. So let’s get our glasses ready and go!
THE RIGHT MOMENT
If you have read this far, it already means that your curiosity is not lacking: the stimulus to want to know is fundamental at the time of tasting: the beers tasted must be free to leave a memory, a trace, an image, a precise sensation in our brain. As well as the right attitude, the right time is also needed: the room must be well lit, you must be comfortable and relaxed and the beer must not be served warm or icy.
A WATCHFUL EYENo, you don’t have to be an expert to know that a dark beer will have a very different taste and aroma to a light beer. Colour is in fact one of the first aspects to take into account. Beer colors mostly range across the yellow and brown spectrum. From straw yellow to a brown reminiscent of tobacco and ebony. This depends on how the cereals, once malted, are used for production. The more the cereals have been roasted, the darker the color will be. Generally, therefore, we distinguish between light, light amber, light amber, and dark. From color to limpidity, i.e. the presence or absence of sediment in the glass which reduces the brightness. This is an aspect that affects the color intensity and therefore quality. A good beer will be transparent, so much so that you can see the reflection (…from a glass that has certainly been well washed and degreased!).
THE BOUQUETNow let us concentrate on all the scents we can perceive. Let’s try to capture their combinations: the so-called ‘bouquet’ – just like a bouquet of flowers. A unique fusion that can make a beer truly unique. The first stage is a phase of research into the raw materials used: from malt to hops. Then comes the second phase of research into the floral nuance and finally the fruity one. From the point of view of the dominant aroma we can therefore distinguish:
- Malty: with a more or less sweet or roasted aroma
- Hopped: more or less aromatic or peppery
- Floral: the image that comes to mind here is of freshly cut grass, orange blossom, lavender, tobacco, and hay
- Fruity: an aroma that is mainly used abroad, ranging from unripe to ripe. Think Lager and Pills with their citrus notes, or Weizen with its banana scents.
What makes the experience even more engaging is the search for those secondary aromas that can intensify the aroma of the beer itself. Here the trick is to surrender completely to the various aromatic notes coming from the glass. Letting yourself be carried away by your senses and your mind to capture the fragrance. Savor its distinctiveness.
FINALLY THE TASTINGThe threshold of perception of taste is, fortunately, higher than that of smell. Here, distinguishing the 4 fundamental flavors is not a very difficult task:
- Sweet: derived from malt or ingredients such as fruit, honey, or spices
- Sour: typical of lambic beers with spontaneous fermentation
- The bitterness: is given by the hops, which in some types of beer such as India Pale Ale is particularly pronounced and strong.
- Salty: (rare in beer) is due to the use of water with a high sodium chloride content or, in the most unique case, to production using seawater.
Let it flow gently into your mouth. Trust your sensations and try to apply these tips. Lots of practice and curiosity will be the key to success. Cheers!