Overall Impression and Drinkability is the part of beer tasting that can be the most satisfying. Despite the appearance, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel, your own subjective assessment of a brew is a key element in the profiling of a beer.
Components of overall impression:
Potability – Can you entertain spending an entire evening with this beer, or will the strength of the flavors wear on your nerves? Radical brews that have high alcohol levels may be tasty, but would not suffice as a session beer. Extreme flavor profiles, though pleasing, may limit the endurance of the palate. Some examples of descriptors may be: “refreshing, highly drinkable forte”…or…“Good for a sipper. The strong, bold flavors would be too rich for more than one.”
Desire – Does this brew “get into your head” with such a lasting impression that the very thought of it activates your salivary glands? These profiles are so powerful that they are often described to closely parallel a sexual encounter. e.g. “This was like a goddess sending powerful sensations down into my loins,”…or…”like a lover, sucking me into the glass,”…or…”can’t wait to have another go-around with this one.”
Feeling – How does it satisfy your beverage needs? What were you looking for in choosing this beer? It may quench your thirst after long hours of physical labor. Perhaps you wanted a feeling of calm euphoria. If this is a late autumn brew, you may be seeking a brew that warms from the belly, and spreads to your head and extremities. As a winter celebration ale, you may want one that lifts your spirits with the exotic spiciness and bitter bite of herbal hops.
Excitability – Did this fill your expectations in a beer profile? Was it lacking in “color” – in other words, too bland for what you expected in this style? Watery? Wishy-washy? Did it pique your interest? Was it so overwhelming that you backed off? Did it make you pucker-up or run-and-hide?
True to Style – How closely did this beer fit the description of style? The Beer Judge Certification Program provides a list of styles with expected profiles for your reference. Fruity esters, for instance, may be fully acceptable in some styles of beer, whereas, they may be totally unacceptable in others. India Pale Ales are expected to be bitter, but may be gracefully balanced, as well.
Character – Does this beer ring of ethnicity or elegance? If it is a German style, can you detect the addition of hops or water clarity that is distinctive in that region? Is it bold? Does it have the class to sustain a head throughout an elegant toast? How does it compare with others of the same style or similarity?
Bonding Ability – Could you really bond with this one? Could you become immersed in its pleasure? Would you seek this beer out if it were difficult to find? How far would you travel to have the joy of drinking this again? Would it be worth the money? Are you worth the expense of a fine craft beer, and if so, would this be the one you would choose?
You have now assessed your beer for Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Overall Impressions and Drinkability. As you assess each beer, record your impressions. You will be amazed to watch your own competence as it matures.