A beer-tasting session is similar to a wine dégustation. Participants learn to assess the color, aroma and taste of the different beers, but also important are the temperature at which it is served and the location.
Temperature: Beer should always be served at the right temperature. Here the general rule is that lighter beer, such as lager, pils or wheat beer, need to be at around 8°C, and are best served straight from the fridge. Stronger brews such as doppelbock or imperial stouts, with more than 8 percent alcohol content, should be served at 10°C to 13°C.
Location: Pay attention to the place in which you hold the beer tasting. There should be no intrusive odors in the vicinity, to avoid irritating the participants´ sense of smell and taste. Smoking should not be permitted, so that participants can enjoy all the aromas in the beer in their original state.
Selection of beers: For beginners, restrict your choice to a maximum of seven different beers or brands. Any more than that and you risk overburdening untrained taste buds.
Sequence of tasting: The order in which you serve the beers is critical for the participants being ability to perceive the aromas. Lighter beers should come first, and then you can move on to beers with a higher alcohol content.
Glasses: Make sure you use the right glasses—no beer mugs. Special tasting glasses are optimum, in which the aromas can develop best. A good alternative are classic red wine glasses.
Perception: Switch on all of your senses. First the eye makes a judgment on quality, then the aromas are perceived via the sense of smell, and only then is the beer tasted in small sips. The beer should be allowed to flow over the tongue so that all the taste buds can detect the different aromas.
Nibbles: After each sample, neutralize the taste by taking a sip of non-carbonated water and a little white bread. The nose and the palate are then ready to approach the next taste.