Beer Characteristics & How to Taste Beer

Think fancy tasting techniques are just for fine wines and spirits? Think again! With the rise of artisanal craft beer that uses a mix of different hops, malt backgrounds and yeasts to create unique brews and flavours, you can also pick out these characteristics if you know what to look for! In this blog, we detail how three of the main ingredients in beer — hops, malt and yeast — affect the flavours of a beer and the different notes they can impart in the glass.

Hops

You may think that hops are only used in bitter IPAs, but they are a key ingredient for all beer styles! As far as beer is concerned, hops are the cone-shaped flowers of the hops plant, Humulus lupulus. Hops contain acids and oils that impart bitterness, flavour and stability to the finished beer. They can be added at many stages of the brewing process — commonly added into the boil, but dried hops (can be added into the fermenter (known as dry-hopped beer) as well as fresh hops.


Hop-forward beers, such as West Coast IPAs, can have a pronounced bitterness that not everyone likes. But in many other beers, hops have a supporting role rather th