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Tasting new beers on your brewery tour can be very rewarding. As you come across new styles and brands, it can be very helpful to know how to evaluate the quality of a new beer. It doesn’t matter what level of a beer drinker you are. This page is designed for any beer enthusiast that wants to take their time and work through the aspects of a beer, step-by-step. 


If you’re pouring the beer from a bottle, gently run it down the side of your glass. Your pour speed should be judged by the head that forms. You want to aim to have about a 2-finger head when you’re done pouring. If you see a little yeast at the bottom of your beer bottle, don’t worry. Some beer comes with a little yeast that is supposed to be drunk with the beer. If this is something you’re interested in trying, stop the pour right before the bottle is empty. Then, swirl the remaining beer with the yeast and proceed to pour the mixture in your glass.


Does it smell more like hops or malt? Light-colored beers often smell more like hops, while dark-colored beers have a more malty, roasted, chocolate, or coffee aroma. Most ales have a hard to pin down spiciness or fruitiness from their yeast.  Just take your time with the smells. Just about three good whiffs should do the trip, but before your first sip! But since we’re on the subject…


This is more about the texture of the beer and how it physically feels in your mouth. Common beers range from silky dry stouts, to thick and chewy Scotch ales, to think and fizzy Berliner weisses. This a very important characteristic of beer.

First Appearance

Is the head thick or thin? Heads can sometimes be described as rocky, which is dense with dips and peaks forming as some of the bubbles pop. The color of the head is also fairly significant. They can range from pure white on Pilsners to light or medium brown on various stouts and porters. Be sure to examine the appearance of the beer itself, as well. It sometimes helps to hold the beer up to the light. Take note of the color and whether or not it’s cloudy or clear.

First Sip

When you take your first sip, try to take note of the initial sensations as the beer enters your mouth. Is it sweet? Bitter? Or something else? Beer–especially ales–can be quite complex. Also, keep in mind that the first sip will always differ from the last.


Take note of the lingering flavors of the beer after you swallow it. It can range from hoppy bitterness to lingering malty sweetness. Before you move on to your next drink, stop to write down notes about everything you just experienced. With your next drink, determine whether it confirms your analysis or encourages you to rethink your conclusions.

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Everyone at SAN DIEGO BREWERY TOUR is prepared to assist you with your San Diego brewery tour package selection to ensure that your experience is always meaningful, fun, and cost effective. Call us at (619) 567-8688 or book online today.