The growing popularity of craft beer means demand is up. That in turn means there are more options on the shelf to choose from than ever before. If you’re just becoming interested, it can be an overwhelming market to navigate by yourself.
That’s where Mirella Amato comes in. She has been leading educational sessions on beer and judging international competitions since 2007, and is one of only seven Master Cicerones (beer sommeliers) in the world. Her new book Beerology comes out this week and contains all sorts of information to help increase your enjoyment and appreciation of a pint.
I sat down with her recently to discuss the steps involved in tasting beer properly, one of the first subjects covered in Beerology.
“Beer usually accompanies something else like watching the game or eating a meal, so tasting beer can be as easy as thinking about that first sip. The most important thing is taking a moment to notice,” says Amato.
Another important part of that is making sure that you’re pouring your beer properly, in order to get the best possible results from the beer that you’ve purchased.
The first step is to rinse the glass that you’re going to use with cold water. Not only does the cold water chill the glass and prevent excessive foaming when the beer is poured into the glass, but rinsing removes any dust or soap residue that might have an effect on the flavour of your beer.
When you’ve got the glass ready, start the pour holding the glass at a 45-degree angle. Hold the bottle above the lip of the glass by about an inch and pour the beer gently onto the inside wall of the glass. This lets you control the amount of head on your beer.
When the glass is half full, start straightening the glass and pour the beer directly into the centre. This releases carbonation and lets you form the right amount of foam to get the maximum amount of aroma out of your beer. Ideally, you want about two fingers of foam. Not only will the beer smell the way it’s meant to, but the released carbonation will prevent you from feeling full when you’re drinking it.
Tasting beer is just the tip of the iceberg in Beerology. It covers beer styles impressively, providing some very clever visual aids for comparing the qualities of each style. It covers pairing beer with cheese and chocolate. Although it is intended for novices, it’s a solid resource for anyone interested in the subject. It is also handy if you happen to be looking for a Father’s Day present.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. Follow him on twitter to take part in a giveaway for a copy of Beerology.