6 Crucial Tips on How to Act at Your First Beer Tasting
Beer. Let's face it, we might not be here today without it. It's the basis of civilization.
And it rarely gets treated as such. Think about pop culture -- when you think "beer" and "Simpsons," who first comes to mind? Could be Homer. It's probably Barney, though. No matter which, not exactly Springfield's finest. When's the last time you saw a classy Bud Light ad? Never, that's when. When was the last time you got a promotion by offering your boss a brewski on the clock? (That time you worked at the strip club doesn't count.)
That's why the 'beer tasting' is so important. It's a chance for people to not only celebrate beer for what it is -- sophisticated as f**k -- but also for you to get the chance to widen your knowledge of mankind's most important beverage.
If you've never been to one, though, you should know there's a certain way to act at these functions. I'm going to save your dignity by schooling you on the major points.
What are 'hops?' They go into ... the thing ... that makes the beer, right?
Look, I don't really know, and neither do you. All we both know is that they go into a thing, and delicious beer comes out. Eventually. The thing is, most other people don't know what hops are, either.
So, sound like the smartest guy in the class by sipping a cold one and then making up some mumbo-jumbo.
"Ah," you could say, "clearly these hops were were cultivated in the Alps." Then lean in closer to your victim and follow-up with, "I can tell because they bring a crisp, yet humble, je ne sais quoi to this batch. This brewmaster spared no expense. Ahahahah."
People will just nod along with you because they don't want to seem dumb.
People often make the big mistake of being complete pansies at beer tastings. If you want to compliment the brewmaster, don't sip it like it's Earl Grey in your grandma's tea cup. Toss it like a boss, slam down your glass and grunt like your name is Sven Bloodraven. Then point at someone and say a curse word. That's how they'll know you're really into it.
You should do this often and with increasing volume. If you are of a stout frame and have a full, bushy beard, no one will say a word to you -- I promise. If you're covered in acne and kinda scrawny, you should be prepared to run.
This is a running gag among beer connoisseurs, so you should bring it up every time someone mentions pale ale.
If you've done this after Step 2 from above, you will definitely be considered an expert.
The savoring of a beer doesn't end when you shut your mouth flappers and burp. A good beer should always bring a pleasant aftertaste, and you should talk about it, because it's what you do.
Here are a list of adjectives and phrases you should use in reference to aftertaste:
- bold, yet smooth
- crisp, but with a bold smoothness
- Ooh, do I detect a hint of chocolate?
Beer. It's like overtime hours for your kidneys.
You taste enough beers, you're going to have to visit the powder room. And since everyone is in there for the same reason you are, you should take the opportunity to lighten the atmosphere.
"You know what they say -- you only rent beer." Then, brace yourself against the wall with one hand while at the urinal (even more impressive if you're a lady), and say things like, "Be kind. Rewind!" while evacuating your bladder.
"Hey buddy, you're not paying any late charges, are ya?" Remember to give people a good slap on the back while saying these things. And also remember, the next time you're in the bathroom, it's a whole new crowd. Take your jokes out for a second spin.
At a beer tasting, you're mostly getting the chance to taste a lot of obscure beers or some microbrews. These guys are making amazing brews without all the fancy technology the big boys depend on.
Compliment the brewmaster by comparing their beverage to a major, well-known brand. Toss it back and say something like, "Whew, is this Natty? I bet it's Natty!" or "Hey, Joe -- I found the Labatts."
The brewmaster will pretend to be offended -- that's part of the game. Secretly, though, he'll be thrilled to his core to hear his beer compared to the greats.