The first aspect to examine is the head – it should be compact, creamy, rich and dense. The head is essential in determining the beer’s aroma, as it contains fragrances and nuances.
It is a fundamental aspect of the beer that reveals the quality of the raw ingredients, and also an important indication that the beer has been poured correctly.
The second characteristic to note is the effervescence the beer should have fine bubbles that rise to the surface.
The colour varies depending on the type, ranging from light and amber hues to darker shades. A strong, vibrant colour catches the eye and gives a positive impression of the product.
The visual examination finishes with the clarity, which is tested by holding the beer up to the light (this does not apply to non-filtered beers).
The taste buds on our tongues are predisposed to discern different tastes: sweet tastes are perceived by the tip of the tongue, salty and sour tastes by the front and sides, and bitter by the back.
The sweet flavours of malt and honey that are typical of beer are perceived immediately by the front of the tongue, but the most pronounced flavour when tasting a beer is bitter.
The beer’s body, or rather the sensation of the intensity and persistence of the flavour as a whole, can also be noted.
The fuller and more persistent the flavour, the more likely it is that the beer will be described as having “body”.
The aftertaste is the intensity of the basic flavours in the mouth after the beer has been swallowed. Initially, the dominant sensation is bitter.
Afterwards, as this fades, one begins to perceive other flavours that gradually disappear. Each beer has its own unique aftertaste.
If the beer is well-balanced, complex and elegant, the drinker is left with a feeling of satisfaction combined with a desire to drink another sip.
An analysis of a beer’s aroma consists of four well-defined factors. First the main raw ingredients, malt and hops, are noted, identifying their strength and various facets.
Then the floral notes, plants and flowers that are present in our olfactory memory, are discerned.
The analysis continues with the fruity scents, seeking to identify those aromas reminiscent of fruit.
Finally, less common scents from other categories (coffee, spices, “bad” or strange odours, etc.) are examined.
This is an extremely subjective experience in which each person draws on their own olfactory memory.