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What Are the Best Palate Cleansers for Beer Tasting?

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What Are the Best Palate Cleansers for Beer Tasting?

Beer is thought of as one of the world’s best palate cleansers. Whether you’re tasting French wines or delicate pieces of sashimi, nothing can reset your palate quite as effectively as a sip of cool, crisp beer. That, however, creates a bit of a quandary if the thing that you’re trying to taste is an assortment of different beers. How do you cleanse your palate when the thing you’re tasting itself is a palate cleanser?

Have you ever experienced olfactory fatigue? Shopping for perfume might be the best-known situation that causes this. Once you’ve smelled more than two or three perfumes in a row, they all start to smell the same. Even stepping up to a perfume counter in a department store can be an all-out assault on the senses that makes individual scents difficult to discern. For that reason, some people shop for perfume by spraying a few cards with different scents and then sampling them outside the store.

If you’re planning to enjoy a beer-tasting event with your friends, you need to have a solution in place for that same type of olfactory fatigue. If you taste several beers in quick succession, your palate will become so overwhelmed that you’ll lose the ability to taste the differences between the various beers. That can make the event significantly less fun; it’s also the exact opposite of what you want if you’re planning to spring for some more expensive bottles.

So, how do you prevent olfactory fatigue when tasting many different beers? You need a palate cleanser, and you need to take care of your nose as well as your mouth. Reading this article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to ensure that you don’t miss a single detail when tasting several beers at once.

Sniff Coffee Grounds to Keep Your Nose Fresh Between Beers

We’ll begin by returning to the perfume counter example given above. If you’ve ever shopped at a high-end department store, you’re probably aware that some perfume sellers keep coffee grounds available for customers to sniff between perfumes. Coffee has a very strong scent. It doesn’t smell anything like perfume, though, so the scent notes in the next perfume will really pop out at you after you’ve just smelled coffee.

As it turns out, coffee also smells nothing like most beers – so it’s also the perfect thing to have on hand for resetting your sense of smell when tasting beer.

“Wait,” you might be saying, “how can smelling something help me taste my beer?” For one thing, as much as 70-95 percent of your sense of “taste” actually comes from your sense of smell. If your nose is working right, you’ll have an easier time tasting your beer. Even more than that, though, aroma is a major part of the beer tasting experience, and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on. Some beers have a hoppy aroma, and others smell more of malt. Some complex ales develop fruity notes. Sniffing coffee grounds between beers can help you detect and identify those aromas.

Plain Water Resets the Palate and Washes Residue Away

One of the best ways to cleanse your palate after tasting anything is simply by rinsing your mouth with plain water. Some people prefer carbonated water because the agitation provided by the bubbles helps to rinse food and drink residues away more efficiently.

If one of the beers that you’re tasting has a high diacetyl content, you might notice the presence of a butter or butterscotch flavor in the beer. You might also notice a slightly oily film on your tongue that makes subsequent beers more difficult to taste. To break up that film, try adding a squeeze of lemon to your water.

An Unsalted Cracker Is the Most Popular Food for Palate Cleansing

Many people like to use starchy foods as palate cleansers when tasting beer, wine and other beverages. The idea here is that you’re eating something with a very different flavor from what you’re drinking – but it’s not so strongly flavored that it affects your ability to taste the beverage. Unsalted water crackers or oyster crackers are ideal. You should avoid eating anything salty because the salt can affect your perception of the beer. Bread, meanwhile, is a bad idea because it contains yeast. You’ll have trouble tasting the yeast in your beer because it’ll interact with the yeast in the bread.

If You Smoke, Don’t Light Up When Tasting Beer

We’d also like to talk a bit about what not to do when tasting beers: You don’t want to smoke. Even if you are a smoker, lighting up is the worst thing you can possibly do when you want to taste the subtle nuances of different beers. Try vaping instead – even if it’s something that you only do when you want to maximize your ability to taste. A plain mint or menthol e-liquid can be a perfect palate cleanser for beer tasting.

When you’re just enjoying a single beer, by the way, pairing your beer with a great e-liquid can be an excellent way to enhance your drinking experience. Click here to learn more about the best e-liquid and beer flavor pairings.

Final Notes: How to Have the Perfect Beer Tasting Experience

We’ll conclude this article with a few tips that can help to make your beer-tasting event as great as it can be. Having the right palate cleansers available certainly helps, but it’s only a small part of the equation. With these final pieces of advice, you can make the event even better.

  • Use the right glasses if possible. Ideally, a beer-tasting glass should be large enough to hold the full contents of the bottle. That’s especially true If you’re tasting a beer that has a bit of yeast in the bottle, because the yeast will tend to settle to the bottom of the bottle.
  • Pour the beer correctly. You want to time the pour so that the glass has a good two-finger head on top. If the bottle contains yeast, swirl the beer around a bit before finishing the pour to ensure that the yeast ends up in the glass.
  • Take a moment to observe the color, clarity and aroma of the beer before tasting it. Sight and smell are important parts of the tasting experience.
  • Always taste beers from light to dark. In a dark beer, the roasted malt imparts a strong, complex flavor that may make lighter beers taste flaccid in comparison.