July 29, 2014

3 Things You Need To Know About A Blind Beer Tasting

This is a guest post written by Richard and David Martinez from Better Beer Authority

3 Things you need to know about a blind beer tastingWe are the Better Beer Authority, and we conducts blind tastes tests to try to eliminate the subjectivity and personal relationship with the beers we review as much as possible.  We accomplish this by rating beers based on our enjoyment of the beer while keeping our personal biases and our past experiences at a minimum.  We won’t find out what we are drinking until we say what we think about the beer, why we enjoy it and give it a rating from a 1-10 scale that we carefully tailored for our show.

The final rating for each beer is taken from the average of the three panelists.  We have given very low ratings, by our standards, to highly regarded beers such as Lagunitas Sucks; and above average ratings to beers with lesser reputations, such as Magic Hat #9. The BBA encourages anyone to sample beers in a blind format if possible, especially if you are in a social setting.

To give you an idea of how our show works, let us walk you through a blind tasting of one of our previous reviews. The blind taste review of the beer in question is linked at the end of this article. Here are 3 things you must know about a blind beer tasting.

Conducting A Blind Beer Tasting

1:  You are seated at a bar, with a beer sitting in front of you. The first think you will notice is the appearance of the beer. You notice the color is jet black with half a finger amount of dark tan head resting on top of it.  Your first instinct will no doubt think the beer is a stout, but it could be a porter or even a black IPA. As you grab the beer, you hold it up to see how it reflects light.  This beer is opaque; not even a speck of light can penetrate it.

2:  Now it’s time to sample the aroma. You put your nose so close to the glass, you almost inhale the foam on top as you get your first whiffs of the beer.  Is that roasted coffee you smell? Maybe.  The hints of chocolate and roasted malts are slightly deceptive.  You’re not getting the piney or citrusy hop notes that would lead you to believe this is a black IPA, therefore you rule that style out.  You’re thinking it is some kind of coffee porter or stout.

3.  And now for the best part: taste. As you start taking your first sip, the aroma wafts into your nose once more. You swish the beer around a little bit to get an idea of the mouth feel. You get a lot of coffee up front, confirming your ideas that this is indeed a coffee beer.  Your friend next to you is also going through the same process.  Even though you are together in this venture, this first moment is highly personal. You both agree that the mouth feel of this beer is thick and heavy; it has sufficiently coated your mouths and tongues.  Your friend then says he gets a lot of chocolate up front.

Now you are thinking maybe it is just a dark chocolate stout and not a coffee stout.  You take another sip of the beer, this time more generous.  Yup, you are sure it is a coffee stout you are tasting.  The host will not even tell you the style at this time, but you are correct.  The beer was not chosen to deceive you, but merely to hide the label from you so your personal biases do not get in the way.  Plenty of beer reviewers out there add extra points either consciously or subconsciously if they know what beer they are having.

At this point, the beer is warming up and you are getting a slight alcohol burn from the beer, but not enough to be off putting.  This beer is quite bold, yet smooth and velvety.  You are now having trouble putting this beer down.  In fact, you hope there is more to go around once you find out what the beer is. At this time you would give it a rating. Without spoiling much, this beer has collectively been given it an 8.7 rating, one of the highest ratings of the year for the BBA.

better beer authoritySo, as you can see, reviewing a beer blindly should clear your mind and let you see, smell and taste the beer in a neutral environment.  However, your opinions on the sight, smell and taste will differ from the person next to you.  And who knows, maybe on this particular day, your sense of sight, smell and taste are not up to par!  It’s all a subjective and personal experience, but it is a lot of fun.  Either way, enjoy good beer!

Based On the Notes From The Article, Were You Able To Guess Which Beer We Were Describing?

In the comments below, let us know if you can guess which beer we were describing from our blind beer tasting notes. If not, you may want to check it out here.

Danielle Cherrick

Danielle loves a good glass of wine. She enjoys exploring various kinds of spirits and learning more about what she's drinking so she can enhance her palate and tasting skills.

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