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Beer Talk: The Most Defining Characteristics of Beer

There have been plenty of developments in the beer world that have almost completely transformed it into something brand-new. Brewers of all sizes have tried to adapt and change the way their beer is made, so it can be pretty difficult to keep up with what to look for in a new beer. If you want to learn a little more about what you’re drinking, review this guide to the most defining characteristics of beer.

What You Smell

What you smell when a beer is first put in front of you can completely alter the way you think about it. Every step of the brewing process can drastically change a beer’s aroma, but the fermentation step is the biggest contributor to aroma.

Depending on what strain of yeast the brewer uses, beer can have sweet and fruity aromas, smoother aromas that resemble the scent of caramel, or even spicy notes that make your nose tingle. Before you take a sip, try to enjoy the aroma to get the full experience.

What You See

One of the most defining characteristics of any beer is its look. Beer color can range from extremely light yellow to almost pure black. Not only does this color indicate what kind of malt was used in the beer’s creation, but it also affects our perception of how it tastes.

The transparency of the beer also impacts the drinking experience. Some beers are almost completely see-through, while others are extremely opaque. While we usually think of a transparent beer as lighter and sweeter and a darker beer as heavy and bitter, there are tricks of the trade that could cause a beer to subvert your expectations entirely!

What You Taste

Easily the most enjoyable characteristic to evaluate in a beer is how it tastes. For most beers, the grain bill affects flavor more than anything else. More simply, the choice of grains, barley, and other ingredients in the mash develop the beer’s flavor. Using something like wheat makes beer taste smooth and mild, but using rye causes more sharp and tangy flavors to come out.

Not all beers rely solely on the grain bill for flavor, though. Sour beers rely heavily on fruit additions to bring tartness and sweetness, while certain fermentation methods can bring on a more bitter, coffee-like flavor.

What You Feel

What you actually feel when you drink the beer is also a crucial element of the drinking experience. Is the beer light and clean like water? Or is it fuller and denser, sitting heavier in your stomach? Carbonation is another part of a beer’s body, with some beers feeling creamy and smooth while others have a ton of bubbles that burst all the way down.

Exploring new beer flavors and textures is a great way to expand your horizons. You might just find your new favorite drink if you leave your comfort zone more often.

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Written by Emma Radebaugh

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