What is Sensory Analysis?
Sensory analysis is the most effective way to identify, analyze and interpret key components found across the beer production industry. This is a very important quality tool we use to ensure FBC is rolling out the highest quality “true to brand” products to our consumers.
Using our mouths and noses as instruments, we can perceive 4 basic senses of taste – sweet, salty, sour and bitter with an acute sense of smell directly tied in. We also experience trigeminal sensations such as burning, cooling and tingling.
Did you know? There are upwards of 1,000 aromas and flavors in beer! Beer rapidly moderate toward 98.6°F when placed in the mouth. Our immediate salivary response to each beer’s unique level of acidity, alcohol content and CO2 level can influence the entire process of sensory perception.
When we perform sensory analysis, we follow this same procedure every time. During our evaluation, we will record our observations on the sensory analysis template while referencing the ASBC aroma/flavor wheel and hop wheel.
First, we pour the beer into a clean clear glass observing for color, clarity, head and carbonation.
Next, we will analyze the aroma of the beer assessing the aromatic characters from the malt, yeast and hops.
Finally, we will taste the beer evaluating the flavor, body, mouthfeel, alcohol level, hop profile and finish.
COLOR & CLARITY
The color of beer is measured at FBC using the Standard Reference Method (SRM) which is linear to degrees Lovibond. The color and clarity is very important for quality and consistency as each range correlates to a certain beer style. Color is largely based on the malts used in the grain bill. Some beers are made to be crystal clear and others hazy – depending on the style. Always ensure the beer being tested is “true to brand” (individual product) and fits within it’s style.
HEAD & CARBONATION
Carbonation is important to both enhance the flavor characteristics of the beer and support a denser, creamier head with lasting bubbles. A higher carbonation level help clear the palate and create an impression of a lighter-bodied beer.
The presence of a stable head aids in the release of aromas and intensifies flavors that would otherwise be locked inside the beer. Generally, an approximate one inch head is appropriate, although some styles may display more or less.
AROMA & FLAVOR – Building Cognitive Memory Banks
• Create an aroma impression by deeply inhaling, followed by 2-3 short sniffs
• Take a small sip and allow to sit on tongue for a moment, then swallow
• Allow approximately 1 minute between samples to readapt sensory receptors
• Taste less robust and flavorful samples before highly flavored samples, identification assistance may be measured by SRM, IBU and ABV respectively.
Sensory Analysts sharpen their skills over time in order to recognize and identify aromas and flavors creating a linear relationship across unique descriptors. The ultimate goal is to form beer character profiles matching each brand (unique product) and it’s respective beer style.