Best way to be a better drinker is drink bad beer and learn what has gone wrong with it. https://t.co/gCvOGwJLAu
— Em Sauter (@PintsandPanels) January 3, 2020
In Drink Better Beer, author Josh Bernstein writes about spending a day with the sensory panel at Allagash Brewing in Maine, acting briefly as a panelist himself.
I ponder my sample of White, the brewery’s flagship witbier, which should taste slightly sweet and sour, mildly bitter, and faintly of minerals. “Tastes overly harsh,” I write in the iPad set up with sensory software from DaughtLab, which collects data on panelists’ impressions. “Too astringent.” I move on to the Belgian-style Tripel, a beer evocative of honey, bubble game, grapes, and green apples. “This is a sourness I don’t love,” I write. The coffee-infused James Bean, a triple aged in bourbon barrels, has a “drying sourness that turns me off,” while the smoothly malty House Beer hits its pear and grapefruit notes.
Whow, that was a lot of flawed beer, I think.
Except, it turns out only the Tripel was adulterated, dosed with acetic acid.
Later Bernstein tastes three different samples of White, and documents the flaws in each. Except, it turns out two are flawless, and in fact, the same beer. “It’s a combination that I use often with guests and new tasters to show when they are overly critical,” says Karl Arnberg, who manages the sensory program as Allagash.
Think about it for a moment. Why look for reasons not to like a beer? No doubt, quality is important. That’s why Bernstein invested a day in Portland, Maine. There’s good reason for those in the beer business to learn to identify what are classified as off flavors, and it useful to some to understand what causes them.