See also our travel links for beer tours and travel guides.
Learning how to educate your palate to the appreciate the taste of beer need not be daunting. All you need to do to start off on this journey of discovery is to relax, pause and pay attention to the way beer tastes. Start with the smell of the beer -- swirl the glass to release the smells and take a deep noseful. Next, savour the taste. Roll the beer around your mouth to appreciate the full flavour. As you swallow the beer, another area of flavour will be noticeable (the "finish") as the beer passes over the back of the tongue, where the tastebuds have different characteristics to elsewhere. The "finish" is a qualitative difference between beer and wine. Wine tasters spit out the wine after tasting but the full flavour of beer cannot be appreciated until the beer hits the back of the throat. By paying just a little more attention to the taste of the beer, you'll find yourself enjoying it more and being able to discern the differences between one beer and another with greater ease.
Read what other people think of the beer -- check out the reviews on the excellent Oxford Bottled Beer Database -- other people may have spotted something you haven't. When you get more confident, add your own reviews or comments.
Don't forget to take a look at the bottle and note the strength and ingredients. The alcohol content will affect the way the beer tastes, but stronger does not necessarily mean better. If you see rice, corn, maize or hop extract in the ingredients list, you'll know the brewer is neglecting the quality of the beer. Anheuser-Busch Budweiser (the American one) lists rice above malt in its ingredients, and that's why it tastes so awfully bland. The Czech Budweiser (Budvar) contains only malt, hops, water and yeast (and is lagered for three months, compared to Anheuser-Busch Budweiser's three weeks). One last thing -- never drink beer from the bottle -- it's like eating your food through a straw -- the aromas are a vital part of the appreciation of a beer, and they remain hidden in the bottle.
The following links should help:
If you'd like to suggest a link or report a broken link, please email me. I try to root out dead links using the excellent BLT for Mac OS X but you may spot a dead link before I do.
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Last updated: 13th February 2007
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