Questioning Traditional Palate Cleansers in Competitions

Hi, My name is Mirella and I’m a Craft Beer and Sensory consultant in Toronto. I’d like to share with you one of four things I think we should let go of as an industry. The below is a transcript of a video I originally posted on Youtube. If you’re interested, you can find the original video, as well as the other three topics on YouTube.

Transcript: Questioning Old Beer Habits Part 1

It’s time we reconsider using crackers (or bread) on the table during beer tasting and judging sessions.

Like most of the things I’m questioning, this custom was adopted from wine.The idea is to have some plain bread or unsalted crackers as a palate cleanser between beers.  Here’s the issue: there are number of beers that have a bread or cracker-like note. It would be the equivalent of using apple slices as a palate cleanser for wine. The reason bread and crackers work as a palate cleanser, in this instance, is that there are no bread-like flavours in wine; it’s fruit based.

Beer, on the other hand, is grain based. And, yes, it’s for the most part a different grain (we’re talking barley versus wheat) but the flavours are quite similar and I’ve found especially with light golden beers, that the cereal grain note in the crackers is stronger than the one in the beer and it impairs the evaluation process. Regardless of style, bread and crackers aren’t really ‘cleansing the palate’ between beers. The whole idea of a palate cleanser is to provide a sensory break, which doesn’t work when you’re presenting a food with similar flavours.

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