The Art Of Tasting Beer – Part I

For many it is a challenge to bring out the aroma and the characteristic taste of beer and that is because there are over 800 flavor components in beer. Beer is a liquid spice and acts as a taste catalyst. The beer helps to make other tastes clearer, is enhancing spices and the taste of raw materials.

Beer is tasted with both, nose and mouth. Initially we perceive the aromas via nose and we can smell up to 10,000 different aromas. Tastes are not only placed on the tongue but also in the palate, throat and cheeks. The taste buds interact with the scent center in the brain and catch the five known tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. They each contain from 50 to 150 receptors that send impulses to the taste center into the brain. Although taste is a complex combination of many factors, such as number of taste buds, temperature, mood, genetic background, age etc, researches show that women are generally better when it comes to tasting than men. Their smell is also better.

Research divides tasters into three groups.

  1. Non-tasters, have a limited number of taste buds. There will be a number of flavors that non-tasters do not catch. For example, in hops, only the bitterness affects non-tasters taste buds and they cannot indentify flavors of grape, pine needle, tropical fruit, red berry, resin etc. Non-tasters make up 25 percent of the population.
  2. Medium tasters, comprise 50 percent of the population, and as the name suggests, medium tasters have more taste buds than non-tasters, with the consequent improved ability to taste shades.
  3. Super tasters make up 25 percent of the population, but the proportion of women among super tasters is significantly high. A total of 35 percent of all women are super tasters against 15 percent of all men. Super tasters are people with many extra taste buds, in fact, twice as many taste buds as medium tasters. For super tasters, many flavors are enhanced, chili appears stronger, sugar tastes more sweet, etc. Even very small concentrations of food and drink, super tasters can taste and put in words. They experience flavor and aroma intensely.

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