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Old 11-21-2012, 02:28 AM   #1
BattleGoat
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Default Developing Your Palate

How long did it take you?

I've never been a big drinker - up until about a year ago, if I drank, I never really gave all that much thought to what whatever I was drinking tasted like - at least on any meaningful level.

Now that I've started to really work on appreciating beer and the variations thereof, I'm finding that my level of awareness of certain flavors and aromas is still pretty basic. It's frustrating - some beers I'm able to sit down and take stock of and pick out a handful of characteristics, but others are still a total mystery. While I suppose that could simply be the styles or brands of beer being harder to pin down, I still feel like I'm missing something and I'm not exactly sure how to go about changing it. I'd be very interested to hear any tips or tricks y'all have come up with over time to help hone in on those flavors and aromas that we all talk about so often.

So besides "drink more!" what do you folks suggest?

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Old 11-21-2012, 02:39 AM   #2
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It just takes time.... I have been into craft beer for years and learn more every time I have a new beer, or for that matter try one I have had before. Taste is an acquired thing... I doubt very seriously that the first IPA that anyone tries is amazing! It took me a while to get the taste for it. Now I can't get enough.

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Old 11-21-2012, 02:53 AM   #3
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drink more... with other beer nerds. I've learned a lot about beer by drinking with friends and other beer enthusiasts. often each person will pick up on different characteristics of a beer, and those with more experience can give tips and define flavors.

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Old 11-21-2012, 04:28 AM   #4
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What tastes you can pick out have a big deal to do with encountering them in your food. Try to introduce yourself to the widest variety of foods and tastes you can. Go through the herbs/spices you have and see how they taste and smell individually. Practice trying to pick out the flavors in your meals and drinks, not just beer. Reading some reviews AFTER you've drank a beer and see if someone has been able to put words to the mystery flavors/aroma you experienced. Lastly, google search flavor wheel or flavor chart and look at it while you drink to see if you can pick some of the things out in what your tasting.

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Old 11-21-2012, 11:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Reading some reviews AFTER you've drank a beer and see if someone has been able to put words to the mystery flavors/aroma you experienced.
This in particular makes a lot of sense - Last month I picked up a couple cans of Back in Black from 21st Amendment as part of a mixed sixpack and there was this awesome, but totally indescribable aroma and flavor to it that I was having the hardest time explaining in my notes. A short time later I went to review it on BeerAdvocate.com with the impressions I did have, and one of the earlier reviews mentioned "piney, resinous notes". I literally went "YES!' out loud, it was such an epiphany.

BTW - In my amateur opinion, 21st Amendment puts out some really nice stuff. I'd love to find a clone of Back in Black.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BattleGoat View Post
This in particular makes a lot of sense - Last month I picked up a couple cans of Back in Black from 21st Amendment as part of a mixed sixpack and there was this awesome, but totally indescribable aroma and flavor to it that I was having the hardest time explaining in my notes. A short time later I went to review it on BeerAdvocate.com with the impressions I did have, and one of the earlier reviews mentioned "piney, resinous notes". I literally went "YES!' out loud, it was such an epiphany.

BTW - In my amateur opinion, 21st Amendment puts out some really nice stuff. I'd love to find a clone of Back in Black.
http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/807


As far as learning to taste, I have found that really learning your ingredients helps you pick them out as you taste beer. Find as my real clone recipes as you can, and then sit down to drink those beers with the recipes in front of you. Try to pick out each individual ingredient as you taste it. Make sure they are real clone recipes and not something that is someone's best guess. Or most brewery websites will list the ingredients on the website or possibly on the package. See if your HB shop will sell you small amounts of each grain for doing structured tastings. You can chew a little grain while you are drinking to try to pick out those flavors also.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:33 AM   #7
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Holy crap, man. You're my hero!

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Old 11-21-2012, 11:39 AM   #8
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I've found the BJCP Style Guidelines very helpful.

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Old 11-21-2012, 11:39 AM   #9
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It really helps that, monthly, our homebrew club does a guided tasting of particular style - last month it was Old Ales. We have a number of BJCP judges in our club, so that conversation is guided and always interesting. That has helped me a lot.

Also, I really enjoyed reading Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer http://www.amazon.com/dp/1603420894/...l_9ek4hjmoy5_b

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Old 11-21-2012, 11:47 AM   #10
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@Pappers: I actually just picked up a copy of Tasting Beer yesterday. I only got a chance to skim it so far, but what I read was really, really enlightening.

I guess I should also explain - at some point I hope to take the exam for both the certified beer server and eventually the certified cicerone certifications, so my (seemingly) slow development in regards to tasting is maddening from that standpoint as well.

Oh well - it'll come in time. What's that about "all good things" again?

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