Sonoma Beerocrats Homebrewing Club Message Board › A book for beginners

A book for beginners

A former member
Post #: 1
Hi everyone.....Boy what a great beer tasting/judging Saturday we had... The only problem I had was I don't know what to look for in the beers I was tasting other than if I liked it or not. I know there's more to tasting other than what I like. There are things to look for, but I don't know what or why color, yeast, etc play an important factor in judging a good beer.. Can anyone suggest a simple book, one without all the big words & phrases, a book for dummies maybe. One that list things of importance, why they are important, a simple definition and what makes an ale, lager or stout.

Thanks everyone.... Happy tasting!!!!
A former member
Post #: 78
Evaluating Beer
How to evaluate beer depends to some extent on why you want to evaluate beer. Most beer drinkers will usually drink beer they like.
As soon as you start to do that you are effectively evaluating beer. Most beer drinkers tend to try a few beers and then stick to their favorites, but more and more people are now trying a wider range of styles.
Tasting beers in a consistent way and keeping some sort of record of what you thought
of those beers is fun and useful. BJCP guide- lines are:

1. Aroma
2. Appearance
3. Flavor
4. Mouthfeel
5. Overall impression

To fully appreciate a beer, pour into a clean glass. Having the right glass for the style is ideal, but never evaluate a beer from a can or bottle.
Make sure your beer is at the correct temperature. Your nose and tongue don’t work very well at very cold temperatures.
Freezing your glass is not recommended.
When pouring beer into a glass, start off to the side of the glass and then pour right down the middle to create a nice head of foam to release aroma.
After pouring, check out the appearance, color, clarity, head size, carbonation. How much does this beer say “Drink Me”?

Now smell the beer. Pay attention to the first smell, as your nasal sensors will quickly saturate. Breathe normal air and smell again, checking hop character, malt aroma,
sweetness, fruitiness, and other aromas. Swirling the glass can release some aromas that are not evident the first time around.

When you drink the beer, how does it feel on your tongue and the sides and roof of your mouth as you swallow? I like To wet my lips as well.
Is the beer velvety smooth, thin, harsh, sticky, oversweet, dry, balanced, or one dimensional?
How does the beer taste? Initial flavor, middle, finish, how many different tastes and flavors do you identify? How is the aftertaste, intensity of bitterness, sweetness or maybe sourness? What do you like or dislike about this beer?

Mike M.
Santa Rosa, CA
Post #: 6
Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer book is pretty good. Rincon Valley Wine and Craft Beer does a beer tasting every Wed night, 6 different beers. It's great practice and everyone talks about what they think. They also happen to have a great beer selection for sale and on tap. Tasting a variety of styles helps, especially if you become familiar with the BJCP guidelines ahead of time.
A former member
Post #: 2
Looks like there's quit a bit for me to learnconfused & going to another beer tasting sounds like an excellent way of learning. Listening to others thoughts as to what made them like or dislike what they tasted is one of the greatest teaching tools . To me others opinion can be what alerts you to things you might have missed or didn't think about, or possibly the deciding factor in your tasting. Thanks for you input.
A former member
Post #: 3
Mike K ....WOW!!! What you wrote sounds a bit intimidating for a beginner, but all part of it carry good sound information, great steps to success and the possibility of a blue ribbon for some deserving brewer.

A former member
Post #: 4
PS.... for got to ask, what does BJCP mean???? you both mentioned it.
Bill S.
Santa Rosa, CA
Post #: 86
Hey Kris/Michele.. BJCP is the formal Beer Judge Certification Program...
I know you both have your favorites. But, let's take the one we tasted at the winery recently. It was an English Ale. If you go to the guidelines put out by the BJCP. Below is a link to the guidelines that all the judges use when tasting/judging beers. That way they are all on the same page. Obviously, there is some room for interpretation, but the guidelines put everyone in the same ball park.

Open the link and, in this case, look at Category 8 (English Ales). Within that category, there are, in some cases including this one) subcategories. This one had 3 (8A, 8B, 8C).
From here, if you are a judge and are judging a style, it will be labeled as such.

Along with each category you will see examples given for the different styles. That way you can purchase a sample(s) of the different styles and write your own personal notes of each and see if you can discern the differences.

Beer tasting can be every bit as complex as wine tasting, picking up the nuances of each style. In this case, you could even pick up an American ale and compare it to the English. For instance, compare a Fullers ESB or an Alaskan ESB with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Style 10a) I'm sure others will correct any errors I may have made here.­
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