Tasting Beers Live: Lessons Learned Part One

#1) It’s a challenge to educate people with beer samples.

With four beers to sample, and a queue of thirsty punters, I reckon I had about thirty seconds to describe the beer styles on offer, push for a decision and pour a beer whilst giving just a sliver of its backstory. Then it was on to the next customer. And repeat for the best part of five hours. You want the customer to try a great beer and understand why it’s great, you want them to remember the beer’s name and – let’s be honest – you want them to buy some either today or on-line at some time. It’s a huge ask in thirty seconds.

#2) Some people say the most obvious things. I had to avoid the obvious answers.

“I don’t like beer, but I like this one”.

Congratulations, that’s because you’ve just tasted your first well-crafted beer made with quality ingredients.

“What’s the strongest beer you’ve got?”

Well, how about forgetting what gets you pissed quickest and try a beer with strong flavours instead? Here’s a chance to redefine your drinking parameters; seize it.

“I don’t like Belgian beer”.

Yeah, that bucket of Jupiler you tried on that stag trip to Brugge was obviously representative of the country’s rich and varied beer heritage.

“Have you got any bitter?”.

Do we have bitter-tasting beer? Yes, some of the world’s finest. But if you mean four-percentish brown slurry, then the answer is no. A sensory descriptor should not define a beer style; both become devalued as a result.

Tongue bitten, objectivity restored, potential future customer identified.

It was actually refreshing to be in a position where I could challenge someone’s beer assumptions. Open their eyes to perceiving beer in a way they’d never done before.. I actually got a kick out of putting a good beer in someone’s hands and seeing a flicker in their eye, a smile on their face, the inkling of a beer epiphany taking place.

More tomorrow.