Decoding Flavor: Four Keys to Tasting

Written by Julia Herz for craftbeer.com

flavor-main1I like to call craft-brewed beer a cerebral beverage. Based on all the flavors, variety and innovation going on today, it certainly gives beer lovers much to talk about. But therein lies the challenge…

In talking about flavor on a daily basis, I’ve searched high and low for a solid answer on what exactly flavor is, how the heck we perceive it, and more importantly, describe it.

Admittedly, as one on a flavor-finding journey, and ever a palate athlete in training—we train each bite people—the bottom line is flavors are often difficult to describe. There are a multitude of books on the very topic. A new one that relates directly to pairing is Beer, Food, and Flavor by Schuyler Schultz.

Schultz talks about tasting in terms of attack: primary, secondary and tertiary flavor characteristics, finish, balance and dimension. There’s also the stand-by bible Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. For those who really want to geek out, read Neurogastronomy by Gordon Shepherd, or Sensory Evaluation Techniques by Morten Meilgaard, Gail Vance Civille and B. Thomas Carr.

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