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Components of Beer Flavor


You’d think enjoying a great beer would be all about the taste. But that’s not completely true. While taste is huge, aroma, mouthfeel and drinkability also play a big part in your total beer experience.

Aroma: Since your olfactory receptors can perceive 10,000 different aromas, it’s not surprising that a lot of a beer’s flavor comes from aromatics. Aromatics give beer its characteristic malty, hoppy flavor, along with fruity and floral fermentation impressions. And aromatics that are too subtle to pick out still contribute to the brew’s flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Yes, the sense of touch is important in savoring beer, and no, that doesn’t mean sticking your finger in it. Mouthfeel—logically--refers to how the beer feels in your mouth. Mouthfeel descriptors include 1)cold/heat, 2) drying, 3)fullness/viscosity, and 4)astringency/puckering.


Taste: As you may recall from grade school science, receptors called taste buds are what create the sensation of taste on your tongue. The four basic tastes—sweet, salty, sour and bitter—are all present in beer. (You didn’t learn this in grade school.) The fifth, less-familiar taste known as unami doesn’t factor much in beer flavor.

  • Sweet: The primary source of sweetness in beer is unfermented sugars, although caramelized components and maltiness can be perceived as sweet
  • Sour: Sour tastes are activated by acids, or, more specifically, hydrogen ions. Usually the more hydrogen ions, the more acidic the solution. Acidity in beer comes from organic acids produced during fermentation.
  • Salty: Saltiness isn’t something you usually notice in beer, although certain ions in brewing water can affect your perception of a beer’s roundness or smoothness.
  • Bitter: The bitterness in beer comes mainly from hops, but some astringency and bitter character can also come from the roasted malt in darker brews.




Remember, beer is always best enjoyed in moderation, and only by those of legal drinking age.