Originally Posted by PupThePup
When an inexperienced person reads a description of a beer they are often mislead with the terms used to describe the taste/mouthfeel of the beer. In an effort to clear this up I'm trying to compile a list of descriptive terms often overstated, misunderstood or overused.
For example, if a beer description says sweet, creamy, vanilla it may be misconstrued that it's going to taste like a cream soda (and it may to some extent)...
What are the best definitions of these terms in the context of the beer world?
A smoothness in the texture of the beer, often created by the ingredients used, such as oats, but sometimes attributed to the use of nitrogen when serving.
Syrupy is often used instead of thick, and generally noted with big beers like Barleywine .
Sweet is relative. It's tasted against the roast and/or hop bitterness.
Some people think this is the bitterness, but it's better described as the flavor of the hops. It's easy to bitter a beer without having any noticeable hop flavor, and a bit more work to bring out the flavor of the hops without over bittering.
I'd read Randy Mosher's book, Tasting Beer, for more insight. There are variations in how different people perceive and describe what they taste. Mosher's book is only very informational, it's well written and a joy on it's own.