Drinking beer is simple isn’t it?
It’s something you do instinctively – sip and repeat as desired.
But how often do you blindly drink a brew without truly savouring your favourite brew?
These tips from our brewers may help next time you reach for a glass of liquid gold.
Glass is class
Always use a squeaky clean glass. Beer is best when poured into a glass that allows you to see its colour, clarity and head. The correct glass also releases more of the beer’s aroma. The best glass for beer appreciation is actually a wine glass – oh the irony!
Warm it up
As beer warms up (6c-8c) its flavours are intensified. Some beers need to warm up more than others. Typically stouts and darks are best at 12C-16C.
Take it easy
Your palate can quickly become saturated after a few swills so four to eight samples is plenty. Start with lighter styles and work your way towards stronger flavoured and darker beers.
Eye it up
Check out the colour which is mostly determined by the type of grain or malted barley used. Pale, quick-dried malts are usually used for lighter styles of beer; dark, roasted malts are predominately used for darker beers and stouts. Most beers should be relatively clear with no sediment – or floaties – unless you’re drinking bottle-conditioned or wheat beers, or perhaps your Uncle’s dodgy home brew!
Get a head
Foam is produced by a beer’s CO2 and proteins from the barley, with hops, help to stabilise the head. A one-to-two-finger-width of foam provides visual appeal and literally seals the beer, enhancing its aromas.
The nose knows
Flavour is largely based on aroma and there are about 1500 different flavours in beer. To get the best whiff, swirl and sniff, moving the glass in circles. It’s easiest to describe what you’re smelling by associating it with something you’re familiar with such as malt biscuits, an espresso coffee or freshly mown grass...
Tickling the taste buds
When you finally sip your beer, swill it around your mouth and over your tongue to cover your taste buds. In beer malt, sweetness is detected at the tip of your tongue; sour, fruity acidity along the sides of the tongue and hop bitterness and malt astringency at the back of the tongue.
Light creates fright
Beer’s greatest enemies are light, age and heat. To keep beer at its optimum, try to be sun-smart. If it’s summer, keep your beer in the chilly bin – with the lid on – until you’re ready to enjoy it. In winter, keep it in the fridge or its outer packaging until you’re ready to drink it.
Hops in beer react badly to UV light, creating an offensive off-flavour known as ‘light struck’ or ‘skunky’.
Brown glass filters out more harmful light and provides greater protection from the sun than both green or clear glass bottles. It may seem tacky, but the 80s icon, the beer stubbie holder, is the perfect accessory for blocking out the sun’s rays and protecting the integrity of your beer.
Most beers benefit from being stored at cool, constant temperatures (12C-20C) before being chilled to around 4C to 8C.
Exposure to heat accelerates beer’s ageing process, leading to unpleasant ‘cardboard’, ‘honey’ and ‘sherry-like’ characters.
Like every product, beer has an age limit. With the exception of some high-alcohol, full flavoured speciality beers, most beers have a shelf life of nine months. While beer is most definitely best fresh, don’t panic if it’s reaching its best before date. You will never, ever get food poisoning from beer because it’s too acidic and high in alcohol to allow any disease carrying micro-organisms to survive, and hops have powerful antiseptic properties. In fact, in many countries, beer is safer to drink than the local water!
To sip or spit?
Why waste a good beer by spitting it out? Unlike wine tasters, beer connoisseurs think that is a dreadful sacrilege. When it comes to enjoying good beer in moderation, the key – and most important aspect – is to sit back and enjoy it!