Posts Tagged ‘ International Bitterness Unit ’

An Amateur Beer Review-Part II

Initially An Amateur Beer Review Part II was going to be titled What Not To Do During A Beer Review.

Well when I tried to write out a list of things that you should not do when reviewing a beer, I decided that it would be easier to just make a list of tips that you will help you conduct a proper beer review. So now Part II of this segment will be titled Tips for Reviewing Beer.

To make this seem somewhat official, I came up with 10 tips that will help you review a beer well. Many of these tips are made up from mistakes and lessons that I have learned from reviewing beer. If you stick to this guide, you will hopefully avoid some of the amateur mistakes that I made when I started reviewing beer.

Now crack open a beer. I hope you learn something.

This picture is from a review of Flying Dog’s In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen I conducted earlier this summer. I wish I would have known these tips before reviewing this beer.

2)Tips for Reviewing Beer:

(1)Do not go into a review blind.

Before conducting any review, do some background research on the beer. What brewery brewed this beer? Where is the brewery located? Does this beer have a unique story behind it? Does the name of the beer have some sort of special meaning? Is the Abv (Alcohol by volume) high or low? What is the beer’s style and are there any unique ingredients used in this beer?

While this  may all seem simple, you will be surprised how easy it is to dive into a review without knowing a single thing about a beer. The “pre-review” takes about 5 minutes and is a great place to get started.

(2)If you are reviewing multiple beers in a session, make sure you review them in the right order.

If you do not review multiple beers in the right order, then you will misread characteristics of the beer. The best way to order beers is based on hoppiness (IBU’s) and alcohol content (Abv). The beers with the lowest IBU’s and/or Abv should be consumed first. This will help you avoid having lingering aftertastes from intense beers appear when reviewing beers with a sweet or mild flavor.

(3)Be wary of how many beers you try to review in a session.

Number 2 and 3 kind of overlap. While it is important to be ambitious and hard working during a review session, reviewing too many beers can hurt your individual reviews. This becomes especially true when reviewing beers with high Abv. Drinking many beers in a session can hinder your focus and accuracy during a beer review.

Along with this I want to note that if you do decide to review more than one beer in a session, make sure you rinse with water when you decide to move on to the next beer. This will help cleanse your palate from any flavors that may still remain from the previous beer.

(4)Be careful conducting a review off of a sampler.

While some beer review guides tell you to avoid reviewing samples all together, I slightly disagree. I just want to express that you should approach any review of a sampler (or tasting for that matter) with EXTREME CAUTION! When reviewing a sampler remember that a sample is just a sample. It is not a full beer.

So, when writing about a sample or sampler you should tone down your review. Write a couple of sentences about each beer in the sample to give your reader an idea of what they will get if they try this beer. While it may not be as in depth as a complete review of one beer, a sample review will still give readers a sense of what they will get if they order this beer.

To see this illustrated I will provide a link for a sampler review I did at The Brew Kettle in Strongsville, OH. I think this is a pretty fair example of how a article about a sampler should be written. For more click here.

Samplers can be fun, but you must be careful how you review them!

(5)Never, ever guess ingredients used in a beer!

This was a lesson I learned at a meeting with SNOB (Society of Northeast Ohio Brewers). Early on I built a comfort zone where I began to think every beer was using pale malt or cascade hops. Truth is unless you know for sure what ingredients a brewer used in a beer, do not guess!

If you do not know what ingredients a beer uses, then just describe what you see, smell, taste, and feel. You can still write a great review without knowing every ingredient used in the beer.

(6)Keep in mind what this beer is trying to be.

You will probably figure this out in the “pre-review”. Is the beer trying to be innovative or traditional? Is the beer meant to be bland or is it meant to overwhelm with flavor? What is the beer’s identity? These are all important to know as you review.

(7)Keep in mind how well this beer fits into its proclaimed style.

This will help quite a bit with number 6. Understanding what style your beer is proclaimed to be and if your beer fits that style will help you write a better review. It will also help you understand the beer’s identity.

For style guidelines visit the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidlines. This set of style guidelines are used by judges of many national competitions. It will also help you get an idea of what to look for with certain beer styles.

(8)Keep your bias under control.

First you need to know your bias. What beers do you prefer?

Then you need to do your best to keep this out of your beer review. Unfortunately, this is hard to do.

My best advice is if you follow all of the other tips, you will have just enough to appreciate a beer to the point where your bias is at the least subdued. Just do your best and you will be just fine.

(9)Remind readers who will enjoy this beer.

It is ok if you do not like the beer you are reviewing. Just remember that all beer drinkers are not the same and drinkers will feel differently about a beer. If you take a few lines to be optimistic and tell your readers what profile of drinker will enjoy the beer you review, readers will get much more out of your review.

(10)Take your time! Enjoy your beer!

Be patient. Drink slowly and enjoy your beer. And take copious amounts of notes. The more you have the easier it will be to write a review later.

Most of all, enjoy the beer you are drinking. All beers are made with a purpose. Never forget that.

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