Beervana Road to Beervana

With over 400 beers, working out what to drink can be a little overwhelming. As a starter, use these tasting tools as a bit of a guide.


Colour is the obvious place to start, and dedicated by how the various malts are dried, kilned or roasted. Many styles can be brewed in various shades from light to dark, but you'll have a clue as to the intensity of the base upon which other flavours will build. Hold it up against the light and marvel at the different ways beer can be beautiful.


While you're holding it up to the light, look at the clarity of the beer. Clarity can be anything from brilliant to cloudy, and it does not necessarily translate to the quality of the beer. Factors that affect clarity include if the beer was filtered before it was kegged, how fresh the beer is and how the beer was mashed. 


Now swirl and sniff. Swirl and sniff again. Arguably, this is the most important part of the "tasting"; smell is a huge component of flavour, and often evokes strong sense memories that are hard to describe. Try it and fear no adjective: Geranium? Pine needles? Banana lollies?


Okay, now you can taste it; you've earned it. Don't gulp but fill your mouth. Remember to keep breathing, your nose is still an important part of this "tasting". Is it sweet, acidic or loaded with hop heavy bitterness? How does it compare with the aroma?


Taste aside, what is the texture and weight of the beer like? Is it light, crisp, drying, prickly or creamy mouthfeel? Higher ABV beers often have a heavy slick texture with a warming effect. Also note the carbonation level. There is no right or wrong with these levels, but more importantly how does it affect your overall experience? Is the carbonation pleasant of distracting?