Belgian BeerQuest: Tasting vs. Drinking


A case in point: the picture of Brugse Tripel on this post is a beer I drank.  It’s my picture.  There’s no post for it because I remember it tastes like beer.  It was a bit bitter. And I poured it incorrectly – way, way too much foam here.

No more.  Not just for the blog, but for me as well, it’s not enough to simply knock back as many beers here as I can get my hands on.  [Now I sound like I have a problem.]  I should have an idea what I’m tasting and how to find the flavours lurking within and beneath the foamy head.

Here’s what I’m using as a starting point:

What, Why, and How

Though not in that order.  It’s a bit more practical to know how to taste, what to taste, and why you’ll taste it.

How: For a how-to when confronted with your glass of beer this page walks you through the tasting methodology.  From pouring through to the finish (or aftertaste), this page tells you what to note.  This part is easy to nail, so I recommend looking at this first.

What: Once you know what to do with this glass of beer, check out this page telling you what you can expect to taste.  Covering both the pleasant and unpleasant ends of the spectrum, it provides an overview of what components of the beer contribute to each flavour.  I’ll return to this page frequently in the next week or so, as my palate develops.

Why: This article does a good job describing how the brewing process impacts the flavour of beer, as well as some of the beer types or families.  It mainly talks about German and UK beers, with Belgium sprinkled throughout.   For an introduction, there is plenty here to absorb.

Any article about beer tasting cannot leave out the great master, Michael Jackson.  No, not the one you’re thinking of.  The late Mr. Jackson categorized, classified and drank beer in a way that is near and dear to my heart: with the perspective that beer is an integral piece of the local culture and customs anywhere he went.  As I get to know the beer here more, I’ll likely pick up one or two of his books.

I’m not looking at other sites or resources dedicated to beer tasting notes just yet. I think it will be easier to develop my palate when I don’t have outside influences.  My first beer after getting this extra insight, Rochefort 8, was a different experience than I had earlier, so maybe I’ll try some of these again to see what I can find.