What should I do when trying new beers at home?

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Answered by: Jack, An Expert in the On Serving Beer Category
Whenever you are trying new beers at home, there are a few things that you should, ideally, do. You could, of course, just crack the top off and take a big chug. But first impressions go a long way, and odds are good the brewer had certain characteristics in mind when they were brewing, characteristics that will be hidden by a lack of scent. Part of the tasting process is done with your nose, and when you drink directly from the bottle, you're going to find yourself missing out on a big part of what may make a new beer your new favorite beer.

The first thing you're going to want to do is look at the packaging. Does it offer any suggestions for pairings? This may be a good place to start, but isn't necessary. Just because a beer says it's great with chili doesn't mean you have to make up a pot to try it. But if you already have a pot on the stove, it might just be the perfect time to try this particular bottle.

The second thing you want to do is make sure that the beer is cold, but not too cold. Store beer in the front of the fridge, where it isn't going to be quite as cold. Cold inhibits flavor. This is why cheap beer is always infinitely better cold: the chill hides all of its imperfections.

The third thing you should do is get yourself a clean, sturdy glass with a wide top. The wide top will allow the effervescence of the beer to move up to your nose while you drink. Don't chill the glass. This will, again, chill it too far to properly evaluate all its flavor profiles, and will effect the pouring in a negative way.

When you pour the beer into the glass, you want to hold the glass at a little under a 45 degree angle. Start pouring the beer down the side of the glass, starting about midway down. Slowly begin to turn the glass up, until it is straight up and down, and your pouring the last of the beer into the center of the glass. You should end up with about an inch of head on the beer, or approximately the distance from the tip of your finger to the first joint.

Before you take a drink, put your nose right above it and take a breathe. Odds are pretty good that if you hate what you smell, you aren't going to be happy putting it in your mouth. Best to make sure. But if you like it, take a deep breathe and let the aromas sink in. Maybe even ask yourself, what do you smell? Coffee? Grass? Lemon? Anything is possible. You are the only one who can decide what you smell.

Now for the main event. Take a drink. Let the liquid sit in your mouth a moment, then swallow. Take it slow and think. What do you taste? Just like with the smell question, really, you are the arbiter of your taste. Whenever you find yourself trying new beers at home, the only person who can tell you what you like is you. And remember, if you don't like it, it's only beer. There's plenty more out there to try.

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