Judging Beer Like an Expert

For the beer nerds among us, judging the quality of a brew is so much more than just a gut feeling about its taste. Beer sampling is an art, and much of it boils down to knowing your stuff and trying lots of beers. Here are a few things that professional, certified beer judges like Herz look for when testing a beer’s quality.


The Importance of a Beer’s Appearance

Professional beer judges know what to look for when it comes to a quality brew. They try to lock-in on the specific coloration of the beer; honey, amber, brown, etc. They also discuss clarity and whether or not the beer is hazy, crisply clear, or turbid. My favorite part of challenging a beer’s appearance? Take a good look at foam retention and lacing at the head of the beer. This refers to just how well the foam lasts at the top of the glass and whether or not there is a ring of foam still clinging to the top of the glass after it’s been drank. 

Smell is Almost Everything

Some beer experts will tell you that the worth of a beer is based 90% on aroma. Malts, hops, and even specific yeasts create a fun mix of smells whether floral, fruity, or even skunky. Good brewers know what they are doing when they create recipes to bring out the perfect mix of fragrances.


Mouthfeel (A Weird Word with a Simple Meaning)

Strange sounding in name, obvious in meaning. Basically a decent beer judge takes special notice of how a beer feels while you drink it. Extra fizzy? Soft and subtle? Every beer has its own unique feel while you drink it, and its normal to enjoy some “textures” more than others.


Think You’d Make a Good Beer Judge?
So, just how do you become a beer judge? Julia Herz suggests that you start by closely paying attention to the beers you’re drinking and really considering the elements we’ve mentioned so far. The next step is to check out the Beer Judge Certification Program for more information on how to become a fair, educated beer judge. Soon you’ll be judging away at beer competitions near and far.

Personally, I think I’d make an excellent official beer judge. What about yourself?

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