Here I lay out the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the blog.
How I review beer:
As a rule, I only review American craft beers. I define a craft beer as anything that has a distribution smaller than the flagship craft brewery of Samuel Adams. I also look at corporate ownership and will not review any beers that are in any way controlled by a macro brew producer (sorry Goose Island). I also only sample breweries that have at least a regional offering as I don’t see a point in sampling a beer that nobody has reasonable access to acquire. As far as styles, I do not discriminate between any categories and will gladly sample any IPA, stout, pilsner, etc.
For presentation, each beer is poured into an American pint glass with a slow pour and finished with an upright drop for the last ounce. This gives a uniform head to display between beer categories so they can be compared. I do not use different glassware to accentuate a beer’s properties (i.e. flutes for more carbonated beer or snifters for hopped beer) because I use the glass type as a control between offerings so I can compare them better.
In order to give a competent review, each beer is judged on both its stand alone merits and how it compares to category standards. I particularly pay attention to the following qualities as I feel each one offers information about the quality of the beer and the concept behind it:
Pour: what kind of viscosity does it seem to have and how quickly does it pour out of the bottle?
Color: where does it fall on the standard beer scale that ranges from light yellow to black?
Body: is it filtered or cloudy?
Carbonation: how fast is the carbonation and how big are the bubbles?
Foam: does the foam linger, is it lacy?
Aroma: what does it smell like, is it too boozy, can I differentiate the hops and malt?
Mouth feel: is it heavy on the pallette or light, is it easy to drink?
Initial taste: is it sweet, is it savory, does the taste match the smell?
After taste: is the after taste different than the initial taste, does it linger and if so how long?
Note: I try to be as objective as I possibly can, although I inherently know I favor types and styles of beers over others. To be honest, I am a hophead through and through, and I’m not ashamed of it!