How did my beer get this rating?
Or – Kahn’s Quick reference guide to how taste and rate beer
Peer review websites and educational resources like Ratebeer.com and Beeradvocate.com have played a huge part in recent years in the craft beer community. We’re even planning events like our 90+ Tasting tonight based on them.
If you haven’t done it before, here is everything you need to know about how to taste and rate beer. You won’t be a Cicerone after you read it, but this should help any craft beer novices have a better understand of how beer is reviewed, and how to really taste a beer the next time you drink one.
Before we get started, there’s something VERY IMPORTANT every beer drinker should know!
Before you drink any beer, but especially before you judge it, make sure that you’re drinking it in a completely clean glass. You also want to make sure the beer is the right temperature. When I say the right temperature, I don’t mean you have to drink it warm. You just definitely don’t want to drink it ice cold.
This is a fact, COLDER IS NOT BETTER. The colder a beer is the less of it you can taste. The only time it is an improvement is if the beer you’re drinking doesn’t taste that good. If you want to really enjoy your beer fully, slightly chilled or cellar temperature are best.
Now as far as actually rating the beer, there are 5 scoring categories which you’ll see abbreviated in most reviews. Beers are scored individually in each category, with a score out of 5 for Appearance (A or AP), 10 for Smell/Aroma (S or AP), 5 for Palate (P), 10 for Flavour (F), and 20 for Overall (O). All of these points are added up to a score which ranges from 0-50 out of the maximum of 50. Then it’s doubled, which gives us the score out of 100.
A or AP - Appearance – You’re looking for color, clarity, carbonation, how thick the head is and how long it lasts, and what kind of lacing the beer has.
S or AR - Smell/Aroma – What does it smell like? This is a pretty extensive category, check out the sample score sheet in the link below to see all the different aroma’s that you want to look for.
P - Palate: How does the beer feel in your mouth? Is it watery, greasy, thin, creamy, milky, sticky?
F - Flavour: We finally get to how it tastes! How does the beer start, taste while it’s in your mouth,, and how is the finish, or aftertaste? How bitter, sweet, or sour is it? Check out the score sheet below again to find some more categories of flavor description.
O - Overall: Basically, this is the opinion section! Do you like the beer, how good is the price? Would you recommend it to a friend? This category gets the most points because let’s face it, whether you actually want to drink it is the whole point!
And that’s it! Make sure when you’re tasting the beer that you follow these categories in the order they’re listed above. It’s the best way to get all the flavor out of your beer.
Below is sample tasting sheet which should help explain what you’re looking for in each category,: http://www.ratebeer.com/documents/tastingform2.doc
For more info about what each of the beer styles should taste like (If it’s brewed true to style), check out the these style guidelines, as laid out by the Beer Judge Certification Program of Cicerone’s:
BJCP Style Index : http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php
Or the Broader (and more flexible) Brewer’s Association Style Guidelines : http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/publications/beer-style-guidelines
And we’ll see you all tonight at Kahn’s Keystone, 6-8pm, for our next big beer tasting event!