How to let your palate identify the beers you like

Identifying beers isn’t always easy for the casual drinker but for someone to find a beer they’ll enjoy is simple. We enlisted the help of Matt Olesh of Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood to identify some common beer flavors. [info]

Let your palate be the judge

On June 11, Blue Palms Brewhouse will host the 2nd Annual Ultimate Brown Bag Brunch featuring 24 different craft beers. “It’s a great opportunity for beginners to learn by trying a spectrum of craft beers,” Matt tells us. Participants would take notes and at the end of the tasting the style and name of the beers will be revealed. “The idea is having people’s palate tell them what they like,” Matt added.

On to the flavors

There are four main ingredients in making beer: malt, hops, water and yeast. To identify the flavors we’ll need to focus on hops, malt and yeast.

1. Hops add levels of bitterness

A very hoppy beer like an IPA or double IPA is going to have a strong floral smell and bitter taste. A lager is low in hops, so it would taste less bitter.

Lagers (low in bitterness): Full Sail Session Lager, Karl Strauss Amber Lager, Brooklyn Lager, Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

IPA (bitter): Stone IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA.

2. Malt adds different amount of roast

A stout or porter might have more roast so it would taste chocolatey or like coffee. A pilsner is lighter so it would taste more bready, cornflakey or even a bit sweet.

Stout (roasty, chocolatey, coffee): Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout, Founders Breakfast Stout, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

Porter (roasty, chocolatey, coffee): Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter.

Pilsner (bready, cornflakey): Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Samuel Adams Noble Pils

3. Yeast is complicated

Yeast is responsible for converting sugar to alcohol during the fermentation stage. It also gives beer a wide range of flavors (like sour beers). Causing beers like a saison or wit to taste estery (flowers or fruits), earthy or spicy.

Saison (estery, spicy): The Bruery Saison Rue, Saison Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin.

Sour: Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Red Ale, Ommegang Zuur, Duchess de Bourgogne.

The interactions between malt, hops and yeast dramatically changes the flavors. Matt told us If you have more roast (chocolatey or coffee flavor) and less hops (bitter), it would be a stout or porter. If you taste bitterness it would be more like an IPA or a pale ale.

“But what’s most important is just to know if you like the beer or not,” Matt concluded.

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