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Old 09-18-2011, 02:40 AM   #1
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Default developing your palate

Well i am former military so you can beieve i have been drinking alot for quite a while, however i am new to home brewing and my question is how do you improve your sense of taste in order to determine what is lacking or overpowering about your home brew.

Of course i can immediately tell the overall differance in flavor or styles but how do you learn the individual flavor characteristics of each ingredient?

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Old 09-18-2011, 02:50 AM   #2
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just by making a beer with such ingredients and then being able to taste that they are there or buy a beer with types of ingredients and then see how well you can tell them apart , it takes a little time to be able to taste the difference between all the different flavors in beers.

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Old 09-18-2011, 02:57 AM   #3
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Start trying new beers you havnt before,what is lacking or overpowering is really your call like with commercial craft beers they dont fit everybodys likes.
You can learn by brewing with just a few ingredients and one hop.Also yeasts.The more you use them brew with them and also try commercial beers you can find what they use fairly often in those. Looking at recipes you can get a generall idea of how much of something to use but its best to make those first before you start trying your own recipes so you know how much to use in general of something.
Another thing is to read the descriptions of the grain and the effects along with tasting them, but i think the best way to develope your pallet is just to get out there and start digging into some differnet craft brews and trying to critique them and think about what you are tasting and what they remind you of. What you like about them what you dont, and sometimes you may see some similarities with yeasts or hops or types of grains from various differnet beers.
Certain beers can make another beer taste differnet if drank in order of each other too.Making it seem worse or better.Same with foods too,ive ate food that made beers i normally like kinda taste not so good.

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Old 09-18-2011, 02:58 AM   #4
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Probably more than one way to learn. My dad was a chef, so I kind of grew up in the kitchen. When he was cooking, he'd often have me taste and then ask what flavors I noticed. With some practice, you can get pretty good at picking out individual flavors this way.

Taste is so subjective, though. You might really like a certain beer while someone else thinks it's too bitter, too hoppy, too sweet, not strong enough. I think in a balanced brew you should be able to taste both malt and hops, but the spectrum is really broad depending on what you are trying to achieve.

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Old 09-18-2011, 03:03 AM   #5
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There's an episode of basic brewing video where they make basically a tea with various crystal malts. Just soak like a tablespoon of grain in ~150 degree water to get an idea if what that grain tastes like. You can also do a hop tea.

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Old 09-18-2011, 03:29 PM   #6
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You'll often see the word SMaSH on posts here. It stands for single malt and single hops. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what it meant until I looked it up on the Wiki-brew, or brew-wiki, or whatever.

Anyway, as you may have guessed it's just ultra simple recipes so that you can play with variables and learn what each thing does to the flavor. For instance, I've been brewing ales for so long now that when I try a lager, I instantly notice the "sulfury" taste of lagers. Before homebrewing, I couldn't "distinguish" flavors at all.

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Old 09-18-2011, 03:33 PM   #7
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I was thinking about doing a series of small 2-3 gallon SMaSH beers for the purpose of developing a hops flavor profile. Same amount of 2-row, same yeast, different hops and try to crank out 2 of these beers a week for a month or so to put back a stock of different flavors.

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Old 09-19-2011, 03:46 AM   #8
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Gotta love this place. SMaSH= brilliant!

I'm a FNG with home brewing but have a pretty good palate. I want learn the flavor profiles of my favorite West Coast hops. Went to the LHBS testerday and picked out a generic 1 hop IPA extract kit. The idea is to use the same recipe (as much as is practical) and different hops for multiple batches. I'm thinking Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Columbus and Simcoe.

This kit's all Columbus and I'll brew it tomorrow. I keg but this will be mostly bottled after 3 weeks carbing and rest.

The goal is by the time I'm done I should half a dozen or so "identical" beers showing the respective flavor profiles. Does this sound like the SMaSH principle for extract?

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Old 09-19-2011, 04:06 AM   #9
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Sounds like a great introduction to learning hops.This has been recommended in the past to split batches and use differnt fermenters to split batches.Hops seem the hardest for me to figure out with brewing along with water doing all grain.

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Old 09-19-2011, 04:22 AM   #10
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A few things I've found helpful is to:

  • Focus on each portion of tasting (ie. the nose, mouthfeel, flavor, aftertaste, and appearance)
  • do a tasting cold and a tasting after the beer has warmed up a bit
  • have a flavor descriptor chart / wheel handy to help put a name to those tastes you experience
  • try all sorts of different beers - get out of your comfort zone and exercise your palate
  • realize that what YOU may taste could be completely different than what someone else might and that's completely valid. Listen to other reviews, but don't feel pressured to taste the same things they do or feel as if you're wrong because you don't pick up some of those things

Enjoy!
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