You know how playing softball once a week doesn’t make you a Major League Baseball player? Well, I’ve been drinking beer for, well, at least 39 years now. (I have pics of tasting a beer as a 2-year-old, which explains a lot!) But despite drinking beer for my entire life, I’m not one of the many beer experts that I’ve grown to respect. Although, recently, I’ve decided it’s something I’d like to become better at.
As a matter of fact, I’m probably the guy that amateur beer experts hate! After softball, I like Miller Lite at our local pub, Maguires, but to be fair, it’s refreshing because it is so close to water. I hang out with a group of jackasses that do beer funnels, play beer pong and flip cup, and we get into beer-guzzling matches. We’re at least bright enough not to do those things with good, craft beers, so we use crap beer. It’s kinda like saying, “I know I’m a horrible driver, that’s why I drive an old beat up station wagon with a bad muffler.”
Bryan Roth, an amateur beer expert I’ve become blog-friends with recently, agreed to write a guest blog on my site and I’d write a guest blog on his. So I asked him to name 12 Great Craft Beers for 12 Great Days, give some tips on why they are good, and he hit it right out of the park. What a great blog! He did an excellent job of explaining to dopes like me what I’d like on days like my Fantasy Football draft, on a picnic with my lady or to bring as a gift to someone’s house — and why I’d like it.
Beer experts: My assignment
The blog Bryan requested of me was a good one – write about 10 different craft beers that he assigned me. My problem is – I don’t have a great palate, and I don’t know what exactly I’m looking for when I sip a beer. I noticed that on Bryan’s blog, ThisIsWhyImDrunk, he cites BeerAdvocate.com an awful lot. That’s good enough to tell me that this site is quite the authority.
So I used this website to research a little bit on how to taste a beer. Here are the Cliff’s Notes on the beer experts tips they shared:
- Look at the beer – I want to take in the color and the richness of the beer visibly first. Note the head and the consistency. Appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it. (My note: Pour the beer in a glass. Looking through the can is just dumb.)
- Agitate the beer – Swirl the beer around in the glass to pull out aromas, and loosen up the carbonation. (My note: Do not shake. Do not make a beer smoothie. Do not drink beer out of a baby’s bottle.)
- Smell the beer – The site says that “90-95 percent of what you experience is through your sense of smell.” Interesting! It says to take two quick sniffs and then one long breath in with your mouth open. (My note: Do NOT do this if you are drinking a beer in the men’s room at the Newark Airport.)
- Sip the beer – After sipping, don’t swallow immediately, but let the beer run across your palate. Breathe out while you taste it, which is called, “retro-olfaction.” Try to taste any sweetness, bitterness, acids or salty flavors and figure out what those tastes remind you of. (My note: Try to do this while not stuffing an Italian sausage down your gullet. It tends to muddle the flavors.)
With all of this in mind, I decided I’d like to improve my beer-tasting experiences and try to become an amateur beer expert. It won’t happen overnight, and I doubt my palate will improve to the levels of Bryan’s or his readers, but even a small improvement is still an improvement!
My first “beer tastings” happened over the past week, and I posted the results on Bryan’s blog, ThisIsWhyImDrunk. I tried “Ryedentity Crisis” from the Knee Deep Brewing Company in Lincoln, California. And I tried “Stone IPA,” from the Stone Brewing Company, also in California. Consider them an amateur’s amateur beer experts tips.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.