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Sensory with Ninkasi: How to Properly Evaluate a Beer

May 21, 2013 Comments (0)  | Tags: Beer Geekery

Four times a week, the Ninkasi lab opens its doors to employees to analyze and sample a tray of recently bottled beers. During these sessions we are tasting to determine whether the beers can be labeled as true-to-brand. Every Ninkasi beer has specific aromas that should be smelled and specific flavors that should be tasted when consuming. If the beer matches the description, it is considered true-to-brand. Occasionally, our lab technician, Dana, and sensory tech, Jared, will spike one or two of the beers with an off-flavor to test our expert knowledge of our Ninkasi beers.
The sensory process is fairly simple. It is important to note that tasting a beer is not just about taste. It's also about sight and smell!

Step 1: Examine the beer. What color is it? Is it cloudy or is it clear?

Step 2: Next is smelling the beer, which is an entire process in itself. First, waft the beer across your nose. Next, sniff twice quickly. Last, cover the sample, swirl it gently and then inhale. Each of these steps can awaken different senses in your nose.

Step 3: Now that you have examined the beer with your eyes and nose, you are ready to taste! First, take a small sip - just enough to cover the mouth. This initial taste is meant to determine flavor, mouthfeel and body.

Step 4: Last, plug your nose, take a sip and then exhale through your nose. This is tasting a beer retronasally, which helps pick up any missed flavors/aromas.

The sensory panel is important to make one-hundred and ten percent sure that the beer we bottle is absolutely perfect. Since every person has a different palette, it's beneficial to have the entire Ninkasi staff participate, ensuring all different kinds of palettes will taste the same deliciousness that comes from a Ninkasi brew.


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