How to appreciate craft beer

One thing I’ve always struggled with while tasting all of these great brews over the years can be summed up in a simple question. What makes this beer good and why is it unique? Sure it tastes good…or maybe it doesn’t. It may be a perfect example of a particular style…or maybe it has a twist. I think each beer is unique and to fully appreciate craft beer for what it is, you have to ask yourself, “Why?”

I read the post “How to evaluate your beer” by Joseph Lavoie at which really inspired me to dig deeper into everything that can go into tasting a beer.

When I drink any beer at home, whether I tried it before or not, I follow a few common steps:

  • Pull it from the fridge. Check out the label, the brewery, style, notes on the bottle, abv, etc. to basically understand what I’m about to drink
  • Figure out which glass is clean and available, regardless of style
  • Pop the top and carefully pour it into the glass (usually I take a picture at this point with the bottle next to the glass)
  • Review the color and head, carbonation bubbles
  • Smell it, see if I an pick out any particular things I can recognize, which right now is pretty limited
  • Taste it, looking for flavors and seeing how it interacts with the aroma
  • Enjoy the rest of the beer usually doing something else like reading, playing video games, playing music, cooking, etc.
  • Make a mental note if it’s good or not to tell buddies and possibly purchase again

While it looks lengthy, it only takes me a few minutes to get to the ‘Enjoy the rest of the beer’ step. I generally drink alone at home, sometimes my wife will taste it and we’ll talk about it. Sometimes I’ll text with a few buddies and let them know what I’m having and how it is. But the beer nerd in me needs to go a bit further, especially if I want to kick up my home brewing game.

So the article above really opened my eyes and provided a pretty straight forward guideline on what I “should” be doing when tasting a beer. I’ve been saying that I was going to start a beer journal and maybe that’s the push I needed to do so. But up to this point I’ve always tried to rate beers with a numerical rating. I think instead of doing that, I want to dig deeper and understand the beer as compared to something like the brewers association beer style guidelines ( ).

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