Friday, March 29, 2013

How to Review a Beer

Example Review #1: Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale

Numerical Rating (on a 5-point scale)
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Note the beer's color, carbonation, head and its retention. Is it clear or cloudy? Does it look lackluster and dull or alive and inviting?
Pours a brilliant deep copper-red with a frothy, dense quarter inch khaki head that won't dissipate.
Smell - Bring the beer to your nose. Note the beer's aromatic qualities. Malts: sweet, roasty, smoky, toasty, chocolaty, nutty, caramelly, biscuity? Hops: dank / resiny, herbal, perfumy, spicy, leafy, grassy, floral, piney, citrusy? Yeast will also create aromas. You might get fruity or flowery aromas (esters) from ales and very clean aromas from lagers, which will allow the malt and hop subtleties to pull through.
Floral, fruity hops, resin, pine, fresh cut grass leap from the glass. There's a subtle caramel malt sweetness in the background that hints of dark fruit.
Taste - Take a deep sip of the beer. Note any flavors, or interpretations of flavors, that you might discover. The descriptions will be similar to what you smell. Is the beer built-well? Is there a balance between the ingredients? Was the beer brewed with a specific dominance of character in mind? How does it fit the style?
Dank hops dominate the initial flavor, with sweet caramel malt coming in and fading mid palate, bowing to resinous bitterness that lingers through the finish. Grapefruit, catty hops, and pine emerge in subsequent sips, but the balance is decidedly resiny and bitter. The malt sweetness provides nice respite in later sips, along with dark fruit.
Mouthfeel - Take another sip and let it wander. Note how the beer feels on the palate and its body. Light, heavy, chewy, thin / watery, smooth or coarse? Was the beer flat, over-carbonated?
Body is on the full side, with moderate carbonation and slight alcohol warmth, with a big resiny bite.
Overall - Your overall impression of the beer.
Decidedly bitter, but balanced in extremes, to an extent. A glutton for punishment, the promise of sweet malt draws me back in for the bitter hop beating.
Serving type: on-tap

Example Review #2: Old Rasputin XV Anniversary Barrel Aged Stout - North Coast Brewing

look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Served from a corked and caged bottle into a Redhook Limited Release tulip.

Appearance - Pitch black with two finger mocha head that left pretty quickly. Fine lacing.

Smell - Caramel bourbon bomb. Some chocolate, heavy roasty malts, mild vanilla. Bourbon dominates the smell.

Taste - Wow. Caramel, vanilla, bourbon oak, mild chocolate. Smooth. Clean. Not too hot. Bitter finish. Pretty incredible.

Mouthfeel - Considerably lighter than I had guessed. Moderate carbonation. Smooth and mildly boozy. Wouldn't guess it's 12%.

Overall - Pretty fine stout. Heavy on bourbon, but not aggressive. Very well done.

Serving type: bottle

Here are some review sheets:
Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Beer Score Sheet
RateBeer Tasting Form

Adjectives to use


  • Bold brown hue
  • Burgundy
  • Bright ruby highlights 
  • Warm 


  • Brown sugar 
  • Herbal phenolics 
  • Soft 
  • Black licorice 
  • Roasted cocoa beans


  • Medicinal 
  • Peppery 
  • Warming 
  • Thick maltiness 
  • Light grade molasses 
  • Dark bread 
  • Phenolics are soft 
  • Dug in deep into the taste buds. 
  • Hops are mild and weathered with a leafy character 
  • Faint detection of caramelized sugar 
  • Ghost-like smokiness 
  • Very mellow Esters 
  • Noticeable alcohol that warms the body


  • Smooth 
  • Creamy 
  • Medium to full body 
  • Lush

Drinkability & Notes:

  • A sip and savor brew 
  • Better to pair up with meat and cheese 

Source: How to Review a Beer
Check out all of my beer reviews here

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