Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A bit of research

I have been thinking a lot about this blog and the shape I would like it to take.  A concept that rather appeals to me is that of standardizing the tasting and rating process.  I do not claim to be in any way an accomplished beer aficionado.  However, by standardizing my tastings, I hope to discover new "favorite" beers.  At times, one can take a mouthful of brew and upon tasting, hold the glass out in front of oneself, and wide-eyed proclaim, "Damn!  That is one amazing beer!"

And then promptly forget about it.

Maybe the "magic" of the moment was not there.  Maybe you did not have a competent second opinion to affirm your wondrous experience.  Maybe you just had too many more and forgot it.  The case remains, that there are are many excellent beers that I have had which I will never recall.  I hope this rating system, not only allows me to fairly compare beers to one another, but also allows me to look back and say, "Oh yeah!  That was an amazing beer.  I wonder where I could find some."  Now even though I am not lithe to drink too much of the same beer (since there are so many deserving beers, crying out to be sampled), certainly a beer tried once and found to be excellent is deserving of a second pour!

All that in mind, here are some of the standardized tools that I will be using in order to rate the beers I drink. 

The Beer Wheel:  "Scientists have found more than 1,000 identifiable flavors in beer, yet an experienced taster can pick out perhaps only 100.

Dr. Morten’s wheel gave beer tasters a common vocabulary and caught on
all over the world. It is now used as the standard reference by the
European Brewery Convention, the American Society of Brewing Chemists,
and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas."
Quote and image from
I do not plan on being very familiar with the wheel, perhaps time shall tell.  What I do enjoy about it is the idea of a "common vocabulary."  After all, what good is a review of a beer if no one else has any idea of what I'm talking about?
Henceforth referred to SRM #1

Standard Reference Method (a.k.a. SRM):  Obviously, this is used to guage the color of the beer, or as Wikipedia so eloquently puts it, "The Standard Reference Method or SRM [1] is a system modern brewers use in beer measurement to assess its darkness. Deriving SRM involves measuring the amount of light passing through a sample of beer and multiplying the result to accommodate the sample size."

SRM #2

This image I include for different reasons.  First of all let me say that I would love to credit the creator of this image, but several websites all refer to it as "my chart."  That said, I am including this chart for a pair of reasons.

1) It does a better job than the earlier SRM chart at capturing the shades of red/amber that can appear in a beer.

2) It doesn't really mess around with all the shades of black beer.  Not to say that there aren't differences and that different levels of light aren't allowed through, but I do not have the equipment, nor the desire, to measure such minute differences.  The human eye can only measure so much and that is the primary, nay only, instrument that I will be using.

However, I feel that this chart, while capturing the red hues absent in the earlier graph, fails to capture the hues of yellow/pale yellow that exist in several varieties of beer.  The red starts far too early in the quantifying of color.  I shall primarily use SRM #1 since it appears to be the more "official" of the two.  However, should circumstances warrant, I shall not shy away from using the second if it provides a more accurate description of the beer.


While I initially had wanted to shy away from the world of beer judges, snobs, critics, et al, it turns out they have a very succinct forms for scoring and analyzing beer.  So shall I stand a bit on the shoulders of giants and use their forms as found at the following web address.

Aroma (12 possible points): Malt, hops, esters (fruits, etc), etc
Appearance (3 possible points): Color, Clarity, head (retention, color, & texture)
Flavor (20 possible points): Malt, hops, fermentation characteristics, balance, finish/aftertaste, etc
Mouthfeel (5 possible points): Body, carbonation, warmth, creaminess, astringency, etc
Overall Impression (10 possible points):   Overall drinking pleasure.  Suggestions.

For a best possible result out of 50 points.

Outstanding (45-50): World-class example of style
Excellent (38-44): Exemplifies style well, requires minor tuning
Very Good (30-37): Generally within style parameters, minor flaws
Good (21-29): Misses the mark on style and/or minor flaws
Fair (14-20):  Off flavors, aromas or major style style defeciencies
Problem (0-13): Major off flavors and aromas dominate

Let's find some 50's!!!

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