Beer tasting - you don't have to be an expert!

There has never been a better time to appreciate our traditional British drink, but you don't have to be an expert. Such a wide range of flavours and styles are available these days that you will soon learn which beers most appeal to your taste buds, whether its a chocolate stout or a light floral golden ale.

Tasting beer is just like tasting wine, but forget about spitting it out! The first step is to make sure the beer you are tasting is served at the right temperature. Too cold and real ale loses many of its complex flavours. Served too warm, it can develop some you don't want and quickly loses condition in the glass.

Below, please find some tasting notes for enjoying your beer. Want more? Why not visit the CAMRA shop for some fantastic titles to help you becoming a beer expert!

1. Use your eyes

Beer should look good. It should be colourful and bright and if it is meant to have a significant head of froth, this should be thick and creamy. Some beers, such as wheat beers may be cloudy, but these too should look attractive. Generally, your beer should be bright and clear and your glass should not contain any sediment.

2. Use your nose

The best way to sniff your beer is with a glass which is half-empty. This enables you to give it a quick swirl, place your hand over the glass to hold in the lovely aromas fighting to escape and then dive in and take a nice deep breath. You will soon learn to recognise key features such as hoppiness from a classic pale ale, the burnt chocolate flavours of a stout or the banana nose of a wheat beer.


3. Now the taste!

As you take your first taste of the beer you'll notice the sweetness from the malts at the front of your mouth and dry bitter flavours from the hops at the back of your mouth. As you swallow the beer and learn to appreciate the ‘finish', the lingering aftertaste.

Just like wine, beers have their own unique characteristics and complexities from the style, the ingredients and the recipe. Beer can be enjoyed on its own, but it is also exceptionally good with food! Experiment and you'll soon become skilled in matching different beers to different food dishes.