Guide to craft beers

Taste of beer: sensory analysis – 3/3

Il gusto della birra - Analisi sensoriale
Written by EFW Staff

The pleasure of beer and of drinking beer!

Finally, it is time to taste!

Luckily the threshold of the taste is higher than the olfactory one. The first sensation while tasting is the sweetness. Our receptors are located in the tip of our tongue and they make us perceive the sweet and honeying malts.
The taste of beer can be salty, as the buds that perceive the taste of salt are located on the higher side of our tongue. Even if it isn’t the typical taste of beer, you can perceive this flavour depending on the type of water used, especially if they have a high concentration of sodium chloride. In particular, there are beers where the salty taste is easy to distinguish like in the German Gose, that foresees in the recipe the use of salt with the peculiar sapid characteristic that make these beers highly thirst-quenching.

The taste of beer can be acid, perceived on the sides of our tongue but in a most central area than the salty ones. In the majority of the cases it is the synonym of a flawed beer because a lack of hygiene in the production process and the tapping system. There are, anyway, beers where the acidity is the main characteristic: we are talking about the historical sour Belgian beers (Lambic, Oud Bruin and Flemish Red Ale) that thanks to the action of wild yeasts, acetic bacteria, pediococcus and lactobacillus that during the fermentation produces high quantity of lactic acid and less acetic acid.
Another example is the German Berliner Weisse, which acidification takes place because of the Lactobacillus that will lead to the lactic fermentation. Without the use of yeasts and acidifying bacteria, the wheat will have pleasant sour notes. In particular the wheat can be malted or not malted.

Finally, the bitter taste, that is perceived by the receptors located in the back of the tongue, close to the throat. This will be the last sensation that you will perceive, this will define the final passage in the mouth. The bitter taste has three main origins: from the yeasts, from roasted cereals main responsible of the bitter end like coffee of the main type of stouts, then from the hops that are the main bitter source of beer, that because of its percentage of alpha-acid will give more or less strong sensations of bitter.

Gradually, when the sensation of bitter will fade, we can evaluate the aftertaste of beer, which means all the flavours that we perceive after that we swallow beer.

A well-structured beer

bicchieri il gusto della birra

Besides the taste, the other important characteristic that the palate will perceive will be the structure: a well-structured beer will fill during its passage, leaving on the central part of the tongue notes of malt; a beer with a light body, instead, will slip more quickly towards the throat giving a sensation of water.

I suggest you to consider always as fundamental part of a tasting the cleanness of the beer. Even the taste in the mouth should be characterised by a good equilibrium among all its parts that should live together without crushing one with the other.

Have you already red the previous article about the visual and olfactory analysis – mini guide?

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EFW Staff