It’s not often that we get to take a look at the wizards of Oz behind the curtain and learn the inner workings of what goes on behind-the-scenes in daily life at breweries. Last Thursday during our women in craft beer festival, Beers With(out) Beards empowered by Bumble, the ladies of Two Roads Brewing Co.’s Quality Assurance teamed immersed us in a sneak peek of what it means to evaluate beer from a professional and scientific perspective.

During our Sensory Workshop Karen Stangl, Director of Quality Assurance, Jen Pesavento, Sensory Program Manager, and Ryan Galligan, Quality Lab Tech broke down all the steps of how the pros taste beer in a fun, engaging, and informative class.

Did you know that the mood or environment you’re in can actually affect how you taste a beer? Or that the smell of beer can trigger a specific memory and emotion? And, that people are actually trained to separate out those memories and feelings from the characteristic aromas of a beer?

“One aroma can trigger a full-fleshed out memory,” said Pesavento during her presentation. “We train our panelists on how to smell different attributes….Sometimes we’ll just all sit around and eat apples or strawberries and describe what those all taste and smell like to us and that helps us hone those sense memories, so next time I go to smell an apple-y beer I think of apple and not that sense memory.”

Tasting a beer over and over again is key for any brewery looking to preserve excellent beer quality and consistent recipes. But, evaluating a beer actually starts with your nose. Smelling aromas opens you up to all these different flavors that your tongue subsequently registers when you go in for a sip. Ever have a stuffy nose during a cold and have a hard time tasting your food? It’s because you can’t smell what you’re eating! When gauging the quality of a beer the Two Roads team starts off with a series of four different smelling stages: The Pass By, The Swirled Sniff, The Covered Sniff, and the Retronasal, which Pesavento promises will “blow your mind.” To learn more about these steps and play along with the Two Roads team during the workshop check out the full recording here.

Beer Tasting Tips from Two Roads Brewing Co.

In the meantime here are a few quick tips and tricks directly from the Two Roads team.

Tip #1 – It is easiest to smell and taste your beer with a clean palate. It’s best not to eat or drink in the 30-60 minutes before you evaluate, but you can always drink some water to refresh your senses too.

Tip #2 – Your mood and the environment you’re in can affect how you perceive a beer. If you’re really happy or particularly hungry you’re more likely to favorably evaluate a beer!

Tip #3 – Don’t stress! If you can’t smell your beer well, just take a quick 60-second break. This will help reset your sense of smell. Powering through and over-sniffing will only make it more difficult to smell.

Tip #4 – Most importantly, relax and enjoy the experience of your beer.

Ready to dive in headfirst and taste a beer along with the pros? If you’re looking to experience the entire class we have the whole workshop live on our Hop Culture YouTube page.

Learn How to Taste Beer Like the Pros

Head to for a full recap of the Beers With(out) Beards 2020 events.

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