How to train my taste buds?

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Collembola!
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Reading this forum (especially the beer swap threads) makes me realize that, although I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about about the differences among many beers, I can't taste some of the subtle differences that some of you can. For example, I can taste different levels of hops, but I can't really tell apart different types of hops.

Is this something that can be learned? Or, are some people's taste buds just more sensitive than mine? Any suggestions on how to best learn to recognize the subtle differences out there?

Thanks.
 

z987k

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yeah i'd go with learned. Make a beer with a german hop a czech hop and an american hop taste them all side by side and you'll notice a difference
 

TheDom

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I'm not sure how others do it, but being a bit OCD and approaching all things in life as a scientist, here's what I'm doing:

1) Establish a simple pale ale recipe that I know I like, using only one type of hop.
2) Brew it over and over again, changing nothing but the hop used.
3) Bottoms up. :mug:

I'll probably apply something similar to different yeast strains somewhere down the road. Granted, it'll take a while, but patience is part of the homebrew game.

Take it easy,
D
 

Brewpastor

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Some people are better at tasting, but most of us are the same. I think it is just a matter of learning. Work with known ingredients and see what they taste like. It helps to have descriptors like citrus for Cascade hops, or toasty for light chocolate.
 

david_42

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In reference to hop aroma, a simple approach would be to brew a Pale Ale with a neutral bittering hop, like Brewer's Gold, WITHOUT any aroma add. Once the ferment is done, split the batch up and dry hop with various hops.

Having been through an Off-flavor seminar, I can say that there are certain off-flavors I cannot detect. Most of the attendees had 'missing' flavors, but they varied.
 
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