Recently discovered historic records show that Loyalist Joel Stone operated a brewery/distillery in Cornwall in the late 1780s, making it Cornwall’s first major industry. It is no wonder that the art of enjoying a pint of beer is in our collective DNA. That is until the Craft Beer movement came on the scene.
Tip. Pour yourself a “cold one,” to dim the shock of discovering that you don’t know how to enjoy a beer.
Now there are special classes and you guessed it the “right” and “wrong” way to drink a beer.
As a retired professional beer taster, (yes this is a paying career), I am not going to tell you that your way is wrong, or that your beer is good or bad, I am only going to say what the so-called experts profess.
The most common mistake according to those in the know, is pouring your beer into a frozen mug. As refreshing as this sounds, it actually detracts from the taste of the beer by freezing your lips and covering the liquid’s taste and aroma, not to mention it adds ice shards to your tipple. For cheap, industrial beer this might be okay, but do you really want to pay $4 or more for a tin of beer, just to remove the taste? If so I recommend frozen vodka as a cheaper alternative.
Unless you drink your beer from the bottle, you have to contend with a glass. Glasses come in all shape and sizes and were traditionally associated with where the beer was brewed. In Europe, where lager is the prevailing style, beer mugs might have lids to stop flies from contaminating the contents. Once, when conducting a live on-air beer presentation I wished I had such a mug to prevent an August wasp from sharing my drink. Having said this, all you really need to do is make sure that your mug has not been washed in glycerine based detergent, as glycerine prevents the foam from frothing.
Beware of the Skunk in a bottle.
Bottles of beer lined up under fluorescent lights at the PLACEBO (aka LCBO), may appeal to interior decorators. but if you like your beer to taste fresh, stay away from beer displayed this way. Direct light can make beer skunky in seven minutes! This especially true of beer in clear bottles.
No there is nothing easy about drinking a beer according to the “experts.” Now you have your off the shelf, soap free mug, you have to pour your beer. Many like their beer without a foam, but you guessed it, the aficionado, wants that foam. Why? A good foam can indicate a well crafted beer made without adjuncts, and also has a unique taste.
Now you finally have your pint in a glass, appreciate its colour.
Generally, you want a clear beer, but with so many unfiltered and dark beers on the market now, you should only be concerned if your beer has “floaties” in it, often the sign of a stale beer.
Next smell or “nose” the beer. Fresh beer will have a mixed aroma of flowery hops and bread like malt. As long as it doesn’t smell like a skunk, it is time to sample the cream like foam and FINALLY take a mouthful, enjoying the mix of carbonation, body and taste flowing over your palette and down your throat.
If you think you are finished, you are wrong. How does it taste, is there taste? In other words are you going to have another swig because you like it, are fed-up with these instructions and just want to drink your beer, or because it has such an unpleasant taste you have to have another go at it to finish it as quickly as possible?
Once you have passed this threshold, enjoy the aftertaste from the bitterness imparted by the hops, the warm sweet bread like feel from the hops or the watery sensation from industrial suds.
Having worked your way through all of these steps DRINK and ENJOY. If you have made it this far you already deserve a second. Cheers! Ian
(C.V. Ian is the author of four books about beer, worked for the Brewers’ Association of Canada, and received a Canada Council Grant in the mid 1990s to travel to Europe to learn how to tell Canadians how to drink beer!)