How to taste and rate real ale

By: JimOldfield

March 26th, 2013

There is no set method to perform this most delicious of tasks, and even the most accomplished tasters, tickers and ale judges all have their own ways. But here are a few tips which may help you along the way:

  • Don’t drink pints if you want to rate more than the first two!
  • Drinking halves (or less) will give your palate a fighting chance… the halves route should be good for up to four different ales
  • Buy your “victims” and sniff the aromas in a batch, first, before drinking anything
  • Don’t start off by glugging a seven per-center and then expect to be able to rate a light ale afterwards – work your way up the strength order
  • Don’t be put off by a cloudy-looking beer – the cloudiness or otherwise is part of an ale’s natural characteristics and is probably not an indication of how good it is
  • Swill the beer around in the glass to release its aroma, then pour it over and along your tongue to obtain maximum detection of its many qualities
  • Take particular note of the ale’s finish – for instance an apparently-sweet ale can have a surprisingly bitter finish (and some that start wonderfully can be spoiled by spectral aftertastes)