Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development -
If you're going to add "beer aficionado" to your resume, you need to learn the lingo first. Not
only will it help you in those heated discussions with your brew-savvy friends, but you'll start
to understand more about what you're tasting.  Here are a few basic terms for you to use:

◦Body: the sense of fullness or viscosity of the beer on your palate. Beer is usually
described as being thin-, light-, medium-, or full-bodied
◦Complex: beer that involves multiple flavors and sensations on your palate
◦Crisp: effervescent and bubbly
◦Hoppy: having a bitter flavor of hops and a spicy aroma
◦Malty: sweet caramel-like flavors
◦Mouthfeel: sensations of warmth, carbonation, dryness, etc., on your palate
◦Roasty/toasty: roasted grain (not burnt) flavors

In addition to this key vocab, you should pay attention to the flavors you're tasting. If you're
new to craft beer, it's often helpful to read the labels, where they'll usually describe the beer
in mouthwatering detail. Do you taste the lemon (or nutmeg or chocolate)? You can also use
your smartphone to search for info about the beer. Don't worry! It's not cheating when you're
interesting in learning. If there's a local craft brewery near you, you can also do a tour which
is required in New Jersey before your allowed to taste the beer. That will often allow you to
interact with brewery personnel who really know about the beer.

When you start appreciating craft beers, buying them is much like buying good wines. You
want to purchase brews that are going to be appealing to your palate, mood and, if dining,
food. If you are new to buying quality beers, here are a few tips to buy the best brew for you.

Because of their uniqueness, seasonal beers are a good starting point to expand your
appreciation of the various flavors in beer.  If you think in wine terms a
very general rule is
that lagers are equivalent to white wine, and ales to red wine. Tasting beer is similar to
tasting wine. Take an appreciative sniff, take a drink, roll it around your mouth and enjoy
the discerning aftertaste upon swallowing.

Craft beers tend to be more expensive and are made for tasting and sipping – think quality
more than quantity. Spending more for less volume is well worth it if the beer flavors are truly
special.  Needless to say opt for less pricey beers for large casual parties and save the good
stuff for smaller gatherings who can appreciate what you are serving.

Even  neighborhood bars and liquor stores now have craft brews  which make it easy to try a
pint or buy a single bottle.  Even better, visit a local brewpub and get a flight of their beers.  
Most brewpubs have knowledgable bartenders who are more than happy to explain the beers
and guide you through the drinking experience.

Just follow those simple guidelines and in no time you will become a beer savvy expert. You
might also consider  bringing in the BeerNexus Team for a tasting party.  They put on an
entertaining tutored tasting and beer education session that's sure to please your  guests.


Please continue to support my friends at
The  Northside Lounge
Nik's Wunderbar - Whitehouse Station NJ
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications.  He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
Starting Your  Craft Beer Journey
To all my readers and friends, I want to thank you for all your support during my time at Nik's
Wunderbar and at the Northside Lounge.  I'm moving back to the enviromental/ecological field so
the next time you see me at a pub it will likely be on a stool next to you.  I'll continue to write my
column here on BeerNexus giving you my take on what's happening in the beer world with my
insights derived from many years in the industry.  Cheers!