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Beer Tasting Guidelines

These are the official beer tasting guidelines as accepted by the Hampton Beer Club.

How to Sample:

Step 1: Pour into clean glass. Pour right down the center of the glass and get a nice head – this releases aromas of the beer

Step 2: First rate the beer on appearance. Does the beer look like something you would want to drink? Does it have a full, healthy head or does it look weak and watery? Hold the beer glass up to the light – is the beer the right color for the style? Can you see any floaties or particles that do not belong?

Step 3: Rate the beer on aroma next. Take a nice whiff – what do you smell? Hop notes such as citrus or a grassy smell? Components of the grainbill such as caramel or biscuits? Coffee and chocolate notes in a rich stout? Make sure the beer is the correct temperature – most beer should be served in the 40ºF area, and as the beer warms slightly, more aromas will be released.

Step 4: Take a sip of the beer. Note the mouthfeel – is the beer crisp and well-carbonated? Flat? Is it thick and chewy, or thin and watered down? Any unusual sensations, like oily slickness? Note any residue the beer leaves on your tongue or palate.

Step 5: Here’s the big one – rate the flavor of the beer. Take notes on the entire flavor experience – the beer first touching your mouth, what the predominant flavors are, and any aftertaste left when you swallow. Is the beer’s flavor appropriate for the style? Any off-flavors? Does the beer seem skunked or sour at all? As beer ages, it can oxidize and develop off-flavors such as wet cardboard, vinegar, or sherry. Most importantly, do you like the taste? A beer might be exactly to style, but it is a style you don’t care for! Note which flavors you like and which you do not – this will help you select beers you will enjoy down the line.

Step 6: Finally, rate your overall impression of the beer. Was it brewed and served appropriately for the style? Did the experience of the beer change between first sip and last? What did you like about the beer, and what didn’t you like? Were there small mistakes that could be overlooked, or was the beer a train wreck you wouldn’t recommend to a man dying of thirst?

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