Welcome to ‘beer reverence time’
Sommelier-like knowledge applies to suds
Do we need a class on how to drink beer?
Apparently, yes. But not a Homer Simpson type of lesson. There’s an art to beer drinking, Mike Tate and Darrel Hubelit say.
“The wine industry has done it for years — with the right glass for whites, for reds. But the beer industry has really been stagnant in terms of romancing their product,” said Tate, a Cicerone-certified beer server, which he said is considered the beer version of a wine sommelier.
Welcome to “beer reverence time.”
“We’re educating North Americans on the proper way to pour and serve beer. Because Europeans have it down pat,” he said.
“I like to make sure my beerdrinking experience is enhanced,” said Tate, who worked for Molson Coors Canada for more than a decade. “I’m a beer geek.”
Hubelit has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality and alcoholic beverage industry. He’s completed numerous wine and beer courses, and facilitated both wine and beer tasting events.
“People are always amazed at the difference the glass makes,” Hubelit said. “Beer is a fun product. And now with social responsibility, we’re not drinking volume; we’re drinking for quality. And these glasses are the perfect tools for getting the most out of your beers.”
Tate and Hubelit combined their expertise to share the following beer-drinking pointers:
The shape of the beer glass affects the mouth’s feel and taste.
Similar to varietal-specific wine glasses, there are beer glasses developed to support the characteristics of specific beer styles. For example, in its tasting kit, Spiegelau features four beer glasses — one for a lager, a wheat beer and an India pale ale, plus a beer tulip.
“Each vessel is designed to get the exact right flavour, sense of smell, into your mouth,” Tate said.
Hubelit described them as “performance glasses. These are tools for drinking beer.”
Use a “beer clean” not a “near clean” glass.
“That will really affect the overall taste profile of the beer,” Tate said.
A beer glass should be properly scrubbed to remove all film and odour, any grease from the dishwasher, or residue from using too much detergent. Pouring beer into a glass coated with a film results in the C02 being released from the beer “and you’ll get basically apple juice, and no flavour and aroma,” he said. “So it takes away from the beauty of the beer.” Have a dedicated beer glass. Don’t mix them with other things, such as milk or pop products.
“Because the sugary film from pop products will stick on the beer inside the glass, and it will take away from the flavour,” Tate said. “The nose will pick up those flavours instead of the right flavours from the beer.”
When drinking beer, consider its appearance, aroma and taste.
“There’s no right or wrong answer. We all taste differently; we all smell differently,” Tate said.
A classic pub beer glass — referred to as a joker glass at beer glass tasting classes — is meant for volume, not to hold in aroma. It’s made of thicker glass and has a rolled rim, both of which affect how a beer is perceived.
Keep the head! Flavour and aroma are lost if the head is not retained on the beer.
It’s a common mistake at bars, Hubelit said. Servers will remove the head so they can fill the glass all the way.
“The brewmaster designed the head to keep the flavour,” Tate said. “So don’t think you’re getting (shortchanged) at the bar if your glass is not full of beer.”
The best way to serve beer is from a glass, not drinking it from the bottle.
The opening at the top of a beer bottle is not big enough to release the beer’s full spectrum of flavours and deliver them to the nose and mouth.
“If you drink beer from the bottle, you are ingesting all the CO2 in the bottle. That’s what makes you feel bloated,” Tate said.
Master class students in Regina check the clarity of beer glasses, which is critical to getting all the flavour of the brew
Mike Tate, left, and Darrel Hubelit can help you get the best out of your brew.