What’s Wrong with this Beer? Identifying Off Flavors

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Green apple flavor might not be intentional in beer. It could be due to dreaded acetaldehyde.

You crack open that bottle and carefully pour the beer into a specific glass to maximize the aroma. You make sure that the temperature is correct and you take that first sip. Something is wrong.

Is it too vegetal? Or is that cardboard? That style of beer shouldn’t be sour, right?

Now there is a quick way to broaden your beer education while identifying the bad flavors that you sometimes get in a beer. I found this splendid beer evaluating resource on the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) website, The Off Flavor Flash Cards created by Sean Hewitt cover such hard to spell words as Acetaldehyde (Green apple flavors), Diacetyl (Buttery) and Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS) (Cooked Corn).

You will want to bookmark that link so that you can quickly reference the main problems that can crop up in beer. Not only will it help you pick out that buttery popcorn taste that shouldn’t be in your beer, but it will also take it to the next level and tell you which faults are OK in other styles of beer.

No, there won’t be a test of your retention skills in next week’s post but this tool is as important as any fancy bottle opener.

Your Beer of the Week is ten years old! Allagash Brewing Curieux is an amazing beer. They take their already tasty Tripel and age it in Jim Beam bourbon barrels to add all sorts of flavors. I got oak notes mixed with a dash of coconut. And while an aged stout might become more bourbon-esque, the Tripel really holds its own, making for a lively beer. Plus, this would make an excellent Thanksgiving Day beer. It will really add to the turkey and the trimmings.

The Beer Homework is to check out the new app from Next Glass.  They want to bring suggesting beers that you will like from an imperfect guess to a scientific level.  And they are doing it by analyzing beers in their mobile lab.  Will this be more helpful?  Who knows, but it will be worth watching and testing.  Their mobile Beer Census 2014 truck was very briefly on the streets of L.A. so we may have to wait a bit before we can start scanning for our local breweries offerings and see what they are scientifically linked to.


Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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