Hat tip to John Verive at the LA Times for his article on How to Become a Better Beer Drinker. He has excellent suggestions on how to learn more and track your knowledge about beer. Here are his suggestions and some of my own comments, but I definitely recommend you check out his original article.
1. Take Notes: As I mentioned in an earlier post, we like to use the Beer Judge Certification scoring system as a guideline for taking notes about beers. The basic scoring elements are below, though the official scoring sheet deals with many more flavor/aroma components.
Aroma (as appropriate for style) _________/12
Comment on malt, hops, esters, and other aromatics
Appearance (as appropriate for style) _________/ 3
Comment on color, clarity, and head (retention, color, and texture)
Flavor (as appropriate for style) _________/20
Comment on malt, hops, fermentation characteristics, balance, finish/aftertaste, and other flavor characteristics
Mouthfeel (as appropriate for style) _________/ 5
Comment on body, carbonation, warmth, creaminess, astringency, and other palate sensations
Overall Impression _________/10
Comment on overall drinking pleasure associated with entry, give suggestions for improvement
2. Book Learning: I’ve met the author of one of the books the LA Times writer recommends: Josh Bernstein’s Complete Beer Course. (LA Times needs to fix his name, though.) Josh is a Cleveland native and we ran into him one day while he was signing copies of his previous book, Brewed Awakening , at Nano Brew in Cleveland. I haven’t read his new book yet, but was eying a copy at Founder’s Brewery the other days, so I may have to get it.
3. Take a Class: We joined the Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists (SODZ) club, which has regular meetings with workshops and competitions.
4. Discover New Styles: The LA Times writer likes Belgians. I might try to focus more on local or smaller breweries in the area. There have been a ton opening up these past few months.
5. Learn to Brew: Check. We’re going to work on trying to brew once a month and developing more consistency in our production methods. We brewed twice in December – a smoked porter and an American pale ale.
6. Cross Train: Drink other things – Check. We need to throw more parties to spread the wealth on the booze we’ve accumulated over the years.
7. Get Certified: I’ve been thinking about the Cicerone Certification just for fun. The first level’s mostly about how to serve beer appropriately, which may just end up in my buying a bunch of extra glasses we’ll rarely use so that each beer can be served with its matching glass.