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How to taste Beer

Beer is a common drink that is enjoyed at parties, restaurants or simply in front of the TV. However, really taking the time to taste the beer you have in your hand will enable you to enjoy it on whole new levels. If you pay more attention, you will understand which styles you prefer. 

The golden rule of beer tasting is to never drink the beer from the bottle or the can, it is better to use a glass. Before the actual tasting begins, you need to make sure your beer is at the right temperature. We must add that the serving temperature has a huge impact on the way beer tastes. When the temperature ranges from cold to much too cold, the taste of the beer is weakened and harder to detect. So if you take your beer out of the fridge and leave it out for ten minutes you are good to go.

First step is pouring the beer. In Curaçao we like to drink the beer without the extra foam on top, however it is the foam that releases the aromas of the beer. If you prefer just the beer and think the foam is taking up space in your glass, then you should tilt your glass and pour very slowly. If you prefer foam, keep in mind that too much of anything is never good. So 1,5 inch of foam is enough.
Now, raise your glass. Not to make a toast, but to examine the appearance of the beer. Is the beer clear or cloudy? Look at the foam, if it lingers and doesn’t dissolve it indicates that the beer has a high level of alcohol and is a well crafted beer made with quality ingredients. As you drink your beer, the foam will leave a lace like pattern on the sides of the glass. This is known as Belgian lace and is another indication of good quality beer.
Smelling the beer is the most important step of tasting. Yes, more than actually drinking the beer. Because our sense of smell opens a complexity of flavors that are otherwise undetectable by our sense of taste. Light colored beers generally smell more of hops. The hop aroma is described as sharp and floral. Darker beers tend to have a malty, roasted, chocolate or coffee aroma. Many types of ales have a hard spiciness or fruitiness from their yeasts. When smelling the beer, take your time with each sniff, because your perception of smell is dulled after about four sniffs.
The taste of the beer can be broken down in three categories: Mouthfeel, Flavor and Finish.

The mouthfeel is the perception of body in the beer. There is an appropriate amount of body for each beer style and it can be determined by how the beer feels in your mouth. Is it light, medium or full? Body is caused by the residual sugar in the beer. Thus the higher the sugar level, the fuller the body. Therefore light beers are low in sugar.  

Make sure to let the beer contact all the four areas of your tongue: bitter, sour, sweet and salt. Is there a balance between the sweet flavor of the malt and the bitterness of the hop?
There should be a slight degree of aftertaste; it should be clean and pleasant. The aftertaste of a beer depends on the style in which it is brewed. So this is when you decide if you want to take another sip or move on to the next beer.

After tasting several beers, your taste palate will become confused. Therefore, make sure to cleanse your palate with water. Most tasters use crackers or bread, which is ok, however they can influence the flavor of the beer. When tasting different beers it is better to taste from light to dark. Remember, there’s a world of beer available, and you will never know which kind is going to best fit your palate until you try them. The complex flavors of beer is are only available for the ones that will stop and savor.