What The &%$! Is It??

“That’s bad – but what the hell is it?” – recent off flavor class attendee

So true. We can often identify that something may be ‘off’ yet we can put our taste buds, olfactory or brain on precisely what we think is wrong. Or we can’t name the flavor we’re trying to isolate. Or we can’t remember where we’ve smelled that aroma before.

Smell & taste education = fun!

Smell & taste education = fun!

It’s all part of the learning curve in beer and all things gustatory.

Here’s the key: Keep learning.

Self-education combined with outside education is the answer to all improvement and progress. We can’t learn it all ourselves – and to think we can would only be fooling yourself. The smartest people around know that they must keep learning from others. They proactively pursue what they don’t know and surround themselves with people who know what they don’t.

And why would you want to?! Half the fun and magic of education is when you get to do it with other people who are also turned onto the idea of learning.

Think of it this way: the last time you really enjoyed any type of presentation, what did you enjoy about it? The more we enjoy it, the more we remember. The more we remember, the higher the value and impression of the experience.

So get out there. Find a class, host a class, take a class, and invite friends or plan to go solo to meet new folks.

Education makes the world go ’round. I’ll drink to that!

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Off Flavor Tasting

What a funny term: “off flavor.”

It’s commonly used in the beer industry to identify flavors that should not be present in a particular beer.

Odd name not withstanding, I was able to join an Off Flavor Tasting conducted at one of my local brewpubs by the brewer during American Craft Beer Week (May 16 – 22, 2016).

Brewer Larry & friend Sandi at the Off Flavor Class.

Brewer Larry & friend Sandi at the Off Flavor Class.

While I’ve been to a number of tasting specific events, I choose to keep attending when it fits to keep expanding my knowledge. Each instructor has a different style, different tactics and vocabulary and you meet new people every time. Knowledge isn’t just power – it’s fun!

We were given a control beer and then a succession of spiked beers. The spikes are liquids added in small amounts to mimic what the off flavor could taste like. In this case the brewer spiked it to 3 times threshold: three times what it would normally take to perceive this flavor. Making them very *ahem* obvious. Oof.

All the unhappy facial expressions aside (which goes with off flavor territory), it was definitely worth taking.

It was a fun hours worth of time learning, sipping, listening, tasting and expanding my brain to increase my knowledge of beer. I’d highly recommend you find and take classes about beer to keep your enthusiasm up and support bolstered.

By the way, I polished off the control beer at the end to relieve my palate. I’m thankful for brewers who make quality consistent beer, Kike Larry.

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The Power of Tasting “Off Flavored” Beer

One of the most visceral exercises I did at the recently concluded 2012 Craft Brewers Conference happened for hundreds of others too. Enter: The Siebel Institute’s Calibration Station room.

Wow. I’ve participated in flavor sensory exercises before and they’re always mind and intelligence expanding. This one fit right in and was intense in that there were 11 stations in which to taste and experience off flavors.

The important thing to know, after you learn to determine if the beer is ‘off’ is to isolate the cause. With a cause identification comes a solution to rectify the situation. No brewer I know whats their beer to be off – a heck of a lot of sweat, passion and energy goes into each batch.

When you have opportunity or when you want to make your own opportunity happen, participate in or host an off flavor beer tasting. It’s very eye-opening and deserves to be repeated periodically.

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