On a chilly Sunday afternoon (not to be confused with a chili Sunday afternoon, to be held one week later), the CDBC gathered to work on developing our beer palates. One way to do this is to do what we called a “referenced tasting,” where you taste a beer, then taste some of the flavors that are supposed to be “in” the beer (such as chocolate, coffee, malt, or caramel), and then taste the beer again to see whether or how your perception of the beer has changed. We intended to do this as a way to develop our beer tasting palates, to help us learn how to identify specific flavors in beer and to describe beer better, and to help us learn how to taste beer in a more refined way.
Kevin developed and led the tasting, beginning with a presentation on tasting beer. Kevin’s presentation covered the psychological and biological aspects of how we sense and perceive tastes and smells, and the procedures of tasting beer. He relied heavily on two excellent sources, Randy Mosher’s book Tasting Beer, and http://www.alabev.com/taste.htm. The Powerpoint can be downloaded in .PDF form in this post here: Tasting Beer.
Then we all moved to the tasting. We tasted four beers, three times each. Each time we tasted a beer, we wrote down our impressions of the beer using the BJCP scoring sheet (more to describe the beer rather than to calibrate a score), which can be found here.
We also shared this great resource: Words to Describe the Beer You Are Tasting
The first time we tasted each beer, we tasted them blind, and wrote down our impressions on the BJCP rating sheet. Then, we tasted several reference flavors, listed below, and adjusted our ratings and impressions, paying attention to what may have changed as we tasted the reference flavors.
For example, as we tasted lemons and Saaz hops, we noticed that Bitburger really has a lemony flavor with Saaz overtones that was highlighted once we tasted those flavors. Or, tasting black licorice really accentuated the hints of licorice in the Old Viscosity. However, caramel really helped us notice the flavor in Black Butte Porter but we noticed none of it in the Torpedo IPA.
Finally, we read several descriptive reviews of each beer (and this is when each beer was revealed to the tasters) that Kevin had found online, re-tasted the beers, and noticed whether our impressions were similar or different than those from the online raters. Sometimes they matched really well, and other times they did not match.
Overall, it was a great way to develop our beer tasting palates!
Tasting order (A link to one of the reviews we used is included in the title of each)
- Pair with: Pilsner malt, Saaz hops, lemon peel and cracked peppers
- Black Butte Porter
- Pair with: Semi-sweet chocolate, ground coffee, caramels, oatmeal, and cascade hops
- Torpedo Extra IPA
- Pair with: Two row malt, grapefruit, pine needles, toffee
- Old Viscosity Stout
- Pair with: ground coffee, dark chocolate, black licorice, dried plums