A few months back, I was enjoying Wednesday evening Serious Beer Class on Granville Island. Each beer that was tasted, was thoroughly discussed and dissected. We were also encouraged to jot down notes. We talked about flavour profile and aroma, amongst other details like adjuncts and mouthfeel, and it seriously improved my palate. Since I completed the course, I haven’t kept up on tasting notes. I sometimes include minor details when I check into a beer on Untappd, but I’m definitely not using the skills that I worked so hard to develop.
On January 1st, Matt and I got together to drink some beers, listen to The Decemberists, and basically have a really awesome day. We did discuss some of the beers we enjoyed (like how Hill Farmstead’s Clover had an amazing expensive Sweet Tarts finish and that neither of us would have a beer better than Clover in 2017) but both admitted that we had become lazy with tasting notes and fear losing our palates.
I don’t really make resolutions, but I do like to set goals for myself. By using more substantial language (goal vs. resolution) I do believe that produces a more successful outcome; “resolutions” typically fizzle…at least that’s my experience with them. For example, last year my goal was to read more books written by women and I ended up finishing 52 books!— but I digress.
This year, Duncan and I decided that our goal is to improve our palates to allow us to be better beer drinkers as well as more knowledgeable for our jobs. So, the tasting notes book was born (it’s a bonus that we also have a fun activity to do together!)
I’ve seen a few people’s label collections. They often keep particularly fun labels or beers they really love in a scrapbook. We decided to incorporate tasting notes with the label and keep it entirely handwritten. We both like hand written documentation, so this works for us, however if you are someone who prefers digital, try taking a photo of the beer and type out your tasting notes on Google docs.
This would be a beneficial activity if you work in the beer industry, enjoy going to bottle shares, want to have a more interactive drinking experience, or just want to start a scrapbook that doesn’t require spending thousands of dollars on patterned paper and novelty stickers.
You could tote your book with you to events and make notes of who you’re drinking with and some of their thoughts.
It’s also a good idea to have a guide book with you. Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher was the book used in Serious Beer. It is divided in a very approachable, easy to read manner, and will be handy in applying proper vocabulary as well as reading up about different regions and styles.