Evaluating Your Beer (AATMF)
Mar 28, 2017
When tasting beer, we often enjoy the intricacies of different styles and variations. We consider this evaluating beer. There are five steps to evaluating beer, which are Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Finish.
Appearance is simply "What does the beer look like?” Beer comes in a wide range of colors from pale straw to opaque black. The darker the beer the higher the number it is assigned on the SRM (Standard Reference Method). This scale was created by scientists to describe how light or dark a beer is. American Light Lagers (Coors Light, Miller Lite, Keystone Light) are pale in color and rate between 1-3 on the SRM scale. Stouts, like Imperial and Oatmeal that are black in color, generally land between 30-40 on the SRM scale. We also consider the clarity of beer when evaluating its appearance. Beer can be clear, hazy or cloudy. We also evaluate the head on a beer. Does the beer have a big creamy head or is the head diminishing or none at all?
Aroma is the second step to evaluating beer. Aroma is what the beer smells like. We get most of the aromas of a beer from hops, malts, and yeast used to create the beer. Malts impart sweet, biscuity, toasty, chocolate, and caramel like smells. Hops give off a floral, citrus, piney, earthy, or spicy aroma. Yeast can give off the aromas of spicy, floral, tart/sour, and even a barnyard aroma.
Taste is the third step and most people's favorite. Again, malts and hops play a major part in what we are tasting, but water is another key factor in taste evaluation. Malts give us sweet, nutty, toasty, and chocolate flavors when we taste a beer. Hops give us the floral, citrus, spicy, and bitter qualities. Yeast can give off a floral, spicy, fruity, and sour/tart taste.
Mouthfeel is the fourth step and describes the way the beer feels in your mouth. The beer could be crisp and smooth or it could be creamy and velvety or it could be viscous. The carbonation of the beer could be delicate or light or champagne like and prickly. The body of the beer could be light to medium to a full body.
The final step is the finish of the beer. Is there an everlasting or long finish? Maybe there is no finish or it fades quickly. Maybe there is a crisp/dry finish or a lingering bitterness. The finish of the beer is usually determined by the carbonation, protein, and sugars used to make the beer.