Archive for November 12th, 2009

Mystery glasses

Don’t worry, it was mostly to get your attention.

As I told you, I was invited to be a part of a beer tasting panel for the biggest Norwegian newspaper, VG.

The results, a ranking of all the Norwegian Christmas beers, will be published later this month, and I will not reveal any of the results.

I have, however, some general remarks about the setup.

First of all, when I taste beers at home and when I travel, this is done in a broader setting. I know which brewery the beer comes from, and I have often tried some of their other beers before. I bring with me my prejudices before lifting the glass. I would have read the label or seen the pump clip, maybe it is a beer recommended by a friend or the person behind the bar.

But the VG beer tasting was a blind test. The beers were served in batches of five glasses. We knew they were delivered by the breweries, were labeled as Christmas beers or something similar. We were split in two groups, and the panel that I was on tried the beers of supermarket strength, meaning below 4.7% ABV.

This left us with our sensory organs, judging color, head, smell, flavour and finish. No extra points for local patriotism, knowing the brewer or having pity for the underdogs.

You can spot unfiltered craft beers by appearance, but for the majority of the beers, it was a long range of rather similar slightly dark/red lagers with a clear sweet malt character. This is not the most exiting of styles, it was invented by necessity after the stronger Christmas beers were sent in internal exile from the supermarkets to the Vinmonopolet.

To be honest, blind tastings is the most fair way to judge or rate beers. You peel away everything disturbing your perceptions, and you are free to discuss the nuances of flavour and color.

But I also need to hang out more with people who know about brewing, especially the unwanted elements in the beer. I can detect the taste of cabbage or cardboard, but I don’t know about why it is there. There is still a learning curve after all those years of blogging…

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