How To Taste Beer | Beer 101
When analyzing a beer, you can't just swill it down, burp and say "it's great" or "it's crap." And, even though tasting is an individual art, there are a few steps, which if followed, will take your beer tasting to a blissful level.
Look Take pause and marvel at its greatness before you partake of it. Raise the beer in front of you, but don't hold your beer to direct light as this will dilute its true color. Describe its color, its head and its consistency.
Agitate Swirl your beer, gently in the glass. This will pull out aromas, slight nuances, loosen & stimulate carbonation and test head retention.
Smell Breathe thru your nose, then with your mouth open, then thru your mouth only (nose and mouth are connected in the experience). Let olfaction guide you. Agitate again if need be, and ensure that you are in an area that has no overpowering aromas. Enjoy its bouquet.
Taste Now sip the beer. Resist swallowing immediately. Let it wander and explore your entire palate. Let your taste buds speak. The top of the tongue will detect sweetness, the sides of the tongue will pickup salty flavors, the back sides of the tongue are tuned to acid tastes, while the back of the tongue is sensitive to bitterness.
Also note the mouthfeel, the consistency of the liquid’s body, and breathe out during the process of tasting. This process of exhaling is called "retro-olfaction" and will release retained stimulations at the mucus and mouthfeel level, but at a higher temperature. At times this will be the same as the olfactory process if not different and complimentary. Also, try tasting the beer after it warms a bit (just a bit mind you). Really cold beer tends to mask some of the flavors. As a beer warms, its true flavours will pull through, become more pronounced.