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We’ve all been there… It’s the end of the week, You’re really looking forward to a beer you’ve been saving. It’s had brilliant Untappd reviews and is right up your alley. The time comes for you to feast on this wonderous hoppy nectar. You open the can, your pour it out, you raise the glass to your lips full of anticipation and…. Nothing. Well, certainly not the fully loaded flavour fest you have been promised on the can, or by all those guys who absolutely know exactly what they’re talking about on craft beer forums. So what’s happened!? Dud can? Untappd is actually not a great way to rate beer as it’s so ridiculously subjective (Surely not!)? You have angered the beer gods in some way? To be honest it’s probably none of the above…. In this blog I’ll go through some obvious and not so obvious ways of how to make beer taste better.
Cool is King
When it comes to storage, it has to be cold. In maintaining beer flavour storage has to be your main priority. The colder it’s kept, the longer the beer flavour will last. Keep in mind that craft beer is not pasteurised like macro brewery produced beer. The process of pasteurising strips flavour and character, but it does make for a more consistent (If shittier) flavour. Pasteurising is good if you want to send your beer across the globe, or store large amounts of it on un-refridgerated shelving in say a supermarket. Although some beers benefit from aging (these still need to be kept cool) the majority of pale and hop forward beer should be as fresh as possible when consumed. It’s worth saying here, that beer straight out of the tank can be a bit green and will benefit from 1-2 weeks to let the flavours settle. However your beer being too fresh is a reasonably unusual problem to have!
As a rough rule of thumb for every 10C increase in storage temperature you will reduce the shelf life of your beer by a factor of three. So if a beer has a 3 month shelf life based on an ideal storage temperature of 10C. If you store it at 20C it’ll be past it’s best within 1 month. When you understand this and pick up a beer that is already a month or two old, you can see that a weekend in a hot tent or caravan will have a massive effect on the flavour.
It’s also worth thinking about where your beer outlet is storing it’s beers. Did you get your beer from the fridge or from a shelf? If it’s the latter, drink it sooner rather than later as not being in the fridge will have had some impact on the life of the hops.
Not all beer benefits from being served ice cold, but it’s definitely a must on a hot day with a BBQ. Typically more carbonated beer benefits from being served colder as the lower temperature prevents the CO2 escaping all at once, hence it stays fizzier for longer. Stouts and porters should be enjoyed a little warmer. This lets more of the complex flavours come through on the tongue. They should still be stored as cold as possible though. Don’t bang them in the microwave before you drink them either, just take them out of the fridge and get them moving toward room temperature… I like to think of them as a darker, maltier, liquid cheese.
The Dirty Glass Mafia (DGM)
It’s fair to say when we talk about food, you eat with your eyes. The better looking the food, generally the better the flavour. This is the same when pouring a beer and is the reason the DMG exists. When you use a dirty glass there are obvious smudges and bubbles on the inside… this is dirt (from whatever occupied the glass previously) You (and everyone else) can see this dirt, and you are consuming it while drinking your beer. Not only is this f*&king rank, it also acts to strip the carbonation from your beer. It’s very easily avoided by washing up, or using a dishwasher regularly. Try and get into the habit of inspecting your glass for dirt before pouring and give it a rinse. This will also remove any washing up liquid residue which can kill your head retention.
Use the Appropriate Glasswear:
I want to stab myself in the face for bringing this up, and it’s not massively related to how to make beer taste better, but it is quite important. You don’t drink wine from a coffee mug, if you do, please, get help, I’m thinking of you Bud. Seriously though, much care and attention has gone into creating this beer for you. Please do it justice and drink it from a glass. I don’t want to get too pretentious…. I could easily, but I wont. A glass, any glass will do. But if you do use an arialater, swallow it whole and let it slosh around your system….
Finally, and you know this already, but good tunes, good company and good vibes will always make beer taste better….Cheers! Rob.