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Old 01-09-2013, 02:55 AM   #1
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Default Training my palate

I'm new to brewing and have an interest in learning to discern flavors of my beers. I know a good beer when I taste it, but how does one learn to taste all the different subtle flavors? In my opinion, when I buy commercial brews say Sierra Nevada, I don't taste malt. I taste hops.

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Old 01-09-2013, 03:03 AM   #2
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Take notes. Record what you taste - not just what you know you taste, but using whatever adjectives make sense to you.

A flavour wheel will give you and idea of what causes some of the different tastes.
http://www.tableandvine.com/the_beer_flavor_wheel.html

If you have an LHBS or brewery that is open to it, try chewing different malts.

If you have the chance, take a brewer's course where you are given samples spiked with flavours - both desirable and undesirable- and then the cause of the flavour is revealed. Our local microbrewery offers this once a year - don't know about elsewhere.

Try different beers. And foods, for that matter. Train your palate by never backing down from a new taste!

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Old 01-09-2013, 03:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BorealBrewer
Take notes. Record what you taste - not just what you know you taste, but using whatever adjectives make sense to you.

A flavour wheel will give you and idea of what causes some of the different tastes.
http://www.tableandvine.com/the_beer_flavor_wheel.html

If you have an LHBS or brewery that is open to it, try chewing different malts.

If you have the chance, take a brewer's course where you are given samples spiked with flavours - both desirable and undesirable- and then the cause of the flavour is revealed. Our local microbrewery offers this once a year - don't know about elsewhere.

Try different beers. And foods, for that matter. Train your palate by never backing down from a new taste!
Flavor wheel is interesting, will be using that in the future. My background is in food and I can pick out spices, sauces, etc in food.... I think that comes from repetition over the years, just can't do it yet with brew. The flavor wheel looks like an organized, systematic tool. Thanks for the input!
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:23 AM   #4
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What helped me really taste malt was to go to the local homebrew store and sample the different types of malts. Once you taste it once you will never forget that wonderful sweet taste.

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Old 01-09-2013, 03:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by histo320
What helped me really taste malt was to go to the local homebrew store and sample the different types of malts. Once you taste it once you will never forget that wonderful sweet taste.
I agree with this. I'm doing all grain and I've been tasting the grains as I make mash. I started with a batch of all 2 row us, next batch was a 2 row with crystal 60, next was chocolate malt and so on simply trying to understand the different flavor profiles.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:14 PM   #6
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But watch out. Chewing malts is a little addictive. I keep finding myself dipping into my 2-row and other malts during the weighing out of the grains. and the grind. and the mash. and the boil.

I think I may have a problem.

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Old 01-09-2013, 03:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewsmack View Post
In my opinion, when I buy commercial brews say Sierra Nevada, I don't taste malt. I taste hops.
It comes with experience and the sampling of many beers. Flavor memorization and growth of the palate so to speak.

Here's an experiment for you:

Get yourself some Bear Republic Racer 5 or Lagunitas Hop Stoopid... along with some more Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Open either one of the former and enjoy half of it. Then... crack open the SNPA. Upon your first sip, I bet you'll taste a malt bomb
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
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I once visited a winery in California that used a version of a wine tasting kit that included vials with flavors and aromas found in wine. You can buy these types of kits for wine:
http://www.wineenthusiast.com/the-co...FUid4AodOW4ANw

Does anyone know if they have anything similar for beer? I managed to find kits that have samples of various hops but not much else. From my experience with wine, these are very helpful. After sniffing the various aromas and sampling the flavor, you can immediately pick them out in the wine you taste.

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Old 01-09-2013, 06:55 PM   #9
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1.
Play the aroma/taste game:

Get a few friends....pour your sample beer. Everyone takes turns just smelling the beer and saying one thing they smell. You keep going around as long as everyone agrees. Stop when you can't get anymore. Now try it with tasting. Its really fun and helps to pick up what smell or taste you might detect but can't name. I did this on New Years with a 2007 Utopia and the game lasted for nearly 30 minutes. We even played again with the empty glasses there were so many new aromas.

2.
Already said...get the flavor wheel out.

3.
Try to do more tastings and take them seriously. This has been my downfall and I am working hard this year to really do a tasting.

4.
Take notes and compare them to online reviews and even the brewery itself. Did you detect the same flavors and aromas? Did you detect it but couldn't identify it? Its a nice check

5.
Finally, do a real tasting. Get a few beers...get some reviews and go to the brewery to see what is suppose to be in there. Put together plates or bowls of said ingredients to actually taste next to the beer. Its very hard to people to distinguish between peach or mango if they haven't had them in a long time. Even more rare ingredients (currants for example) are harder to identify without a tasting of them. Plus, you get to eat and drink and get better at this skill.

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Old 01-09-2013, 07:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbrews

It comes with experience and the sampling of many beers. Flavor memorization and growth of the palate so to speak.

Here's an experiment for you:

Get yourself some Bear Republic Racer 5 or Lagunitas Hop Stoopid... along with some more Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Open either one of the former and enjoy half of it. Then... crack open the SNPA. Upon your first sip, I bet you'll taste a malt bomb
I like that suggestion, but this is a small town and I'm not sure I can find those specific beers. I see alot of Sam Adams, shock top, Sierra of course, turbo dog and used to see Pete's wicked ale but it seems to have vanished. Any good styles you can suggest in the event I don't find these?
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