Recently we discussed the flavours and aromas within beer, and how they’re unique to each person, but can you enhance them? Can you get more from the beer that’s within your glass? If you follow these few steps then those flavours and aromas could be enhanced, or even changed…
Glassware is a perfect place to start when looking at our experience with beer. It is the foundation on which the rest of our experience is built, with incorrect or dirty glassware spoiling what otherwise would, or should, be an amazing beer. Firstly, glassware needs to be clean and yes, those bubbles on the inside of glass do indicate if it is dirty or not even if it isn’t visible dirt.
Secondly, a tulip-style or tapered glass captures and retains aroma which is released from beer as it changes temperature and gas is released from within the liquid. The best example of this is to cover the top of your glass with your hand, swirl the liquid in the glass gently, then remove your hand and stick your nose in the glass. You should experience an abundance of aroma that has been released from the beer as air escapes from within it.
Finally, use a different glass (where possible) for each beer or at least rinse your glass between each beer. Any remaining residue or sediment can influence the next beer.
PALATE CLEANSE BETWEEN BEERS
Our palate is very sensitive, and to give ourselves the best possible chance to enjoy our beers, it is best we try each with a clean slate. Repeatedly drinking the same style, or even different ones, is like an assault on our senses and their efficiency can become reduced if we don’t allow them to reset.
Different beverages or styles can be used as a palate cleanser, but the best possible way to do this is by either drinking water between drinks, or eating plain snacks between. A drink of water and a swill helps clean our mouths and palates, whilst providing a neutral base to drink beer on, as opposed to drinking juice, pop or another beer.
Likewise, a plain snack such as ready salted crisps or peanuts give our palate a different experience beyond beer/liquid, and again creates a neutral environment which can elevate and enhance the flavour and aroma of beer.
SMELL YOUR BEER
We’ve all smelled a beer, but have you really smelled a beer? Just like with wine, beer can be smelled and tasted in many different ways. Our brains can detect thousands of different flavours and smells, but can’t always put a label to them, making different methods essential. Aroma can be assessed in many ways including these two methods once it is in your glass; short sniffing the beer (1 second inhale) or a drive-by, swirl the glass then pass it under your nose left to right, sniffing the beer as you do.
Our sense of smell, or Olfactory System, can influence our sense of taste by exhaling as we swallow/drink beer, known as retronasal olfaction. This allows us to taste beer as it changes temperature in our mouth, and a change in flavours as enzymes break it down as it sits in our mouth.
Don’t believe me? Eat or drink something, and whilst it’s in your mouth pinch your nose. Now let go. Notice a difference? That’s because our sense of smell enhances our sense of taste, with both playing vital roles in our enjoyment of beer. These things might seem simple, but they can elevate our experience with beer and bring about newfound appreciation of what is in our glass.