In today's "J answers You" I'll be talking about how to rate beer. Since many of you have expressed wanting to expand your horizons, its important that you know what to look for when you pour yourself a beer.
First things first: You'll want to prepare your beer. This means getting it the right temperate to drink it. Now normally, this would be cellar temperate, so more or less the temperature of your basement. In order to get to this, I would suggest leaving it in your fridge. Although it is colder than your basement, by the time you have poured your beer and examined it, it will have warmed up a little. Under no circumstances should you freeze it! I know lots of people that enjoy putting their beers in the freezer. This is a bad idea, you'll damage the taste of the beer.
Second step: Find a place to rate your beer. Someplace where you won't get distracted and leave it sitting on a table for half an hour.
Third step: Pouring your beer. Silly I know, but it is important. Beers are made to be drunk out of glasses, not bottles. Ideally you'll want the right type of glass too: a pint pub glass for stouts, ales and lagers, a champagne glass for lambic beers and a chalice glass for belgian ales. These will help you get the most out of your beer. For most beers, you'll want to tip your glass a bit and slowly fill it. For stouts and lagers, you will want a smaller angle.
Forth step: Rate your beer.
Looks (Appearance): What does your beer look like? What color is it? How much head does it have, how long does it stay? Basically just try to describe what your beer looks like. Things to keep an eye for are sediments. Some beers are supposed to have them, others not.
For me, if I rate a beer highly on its looks, it means that by just looking at it I want to drink it.
Smells (Aroma): What does your beer smell like? Take your time, give it a good sniff. Try to detect what the beer smells like. Is the smell too overpowering? Does it smell like fruits? Malt? Chocolate? Try to pickup the obvious smells and the less obvious ones too. Personally I like to keep a small cup with coffee beans nearby in order to clean my nostrils between smells (one good smell of it and you'll find them cleared right up). This might help you pickup on the more subtle aromas, as does swirling the glass.
Again with this, the higher the mark, the more I want to drink it.
Tastes (Flavor / Palate): Now I'll split this into 2 parts. Most people will rate taste only on flavor, however its important to also consider Palate.
Palate: For those of you that don't know what this is, its basically: How does this beer feel in my mouth? Is it smooth? Harsh? Does it feel watery or filling? There's no real tip to this one. Try lots of beer, know what you should be expecting from the kind of beer you are drinking.
Flavor: What does it taste like when it first hits your lips? What about after you've swallowed? How long does the aftertaste like and what does it taste like? Try to detect everytaste that comes at you. Is it bitter? Sweet? Does it have anything special about it?
Rate your taste over how much you enjoyed drinking your beer and how willing you would be to drink it again.
I hope this will help you all with your tasting and your exploration of future beers.
News from J's house: My cat (who's 17), recently starting pulling out clumps of his hair with his teeth. Anyone know why he might have started doing this out of the blue? I've already set up an appointment with the vet next week, but I'd love to see if I could do anything for him before then. Let me know in the comments.