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.
ALASKAN WINTER ALE
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