Jun 24, 2018

Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 9
Keeping notes on your favorite beers

Nov. 2, 2000

You certainly don't have to keep a fancy journal, but there are several good reasons to jot down a few notes about most beers you taste. First, it will help you think a little more about what you are tasting, and you will learn about both the beer and your palate. Second, you may find that your tastes and/or this particular beer are changing over time. Third, a few years from now when you remember that "great porter I had on a cold night in Cleveland" you'll be able to figure out what the beer was and why you liked it.


File your notes on index cards, keep them in small wire-ringed memo pad like you buy at the drug store, in a loose-leaf notebook ... it doesn't matter. Don't worry about neatness, or even grammar, because you never have to show your notes to anybody else.

You may choose to score the beers or not. We're partial to the 20-point system outlined by Fred Eckhardt years ago.

What's important is that you consider the beer's aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and the overall impression it leaves. That doesn't mean you need to describe each of these for every beer you try; stick to the highlights. Even counting hyphenated words as two, Michael Jackson's notes on Lion Stout (below) total just 14 words.

Don't consider this a chore. It really can be fun, especially this time of year when brewers roll out such a broad range of winter beers. You'll also find it particularly useful because it will be another year before you get to try these seasonal offerings again.

Whether you are trying to pick out the spices in Anchor's Our Special Ale, which change every year, or to discern a difference in Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout from one year to the next, you'll find your tasting journal can make good reading.

Tasting notes

Brewed by Alaskan Brewing Co. in Anchorage, Alaska

Notes from Real Beer's "The beers of winter"

It smells like Christmas, probably because the Alaskan Brewing Co. brews it with spruce tips. Lingering sweetness. The freshness in the nose carries throughout; it tastes like outdoors. A good beer to have while out in the woods chopping down a Christmas tree.

Brewed by Ceylon Brewing Co. in Sri Lanka

Michael Jackson writes:

Pruney, mocha aromas and flavors; tar-like oiliness of body; peppery, bitter-chocolate finish. Food pairing: Anything with coconut, especially Sri Lankan curries and similar mild-but-spicy dishes from elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent or South East Asia. To make a great dessert, blend it with melting ice-cream, then freeze the result. Serve with bitter-chocolate cookies.

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