Before starting a beer-tasting session, there are two important elements that must be carefully controlled. First of all, there is the temperature at which the beer is served. A low temperature breaks the aroma. When tasting beer, therefore, it should not be too cool. This is the opposite of what should happen with “thirst-quenching” beers or Pils. The glass is also an important factor. When sampling beer, the shape and depth of the glass will affect the aroma. 

The beer-sampling process involves three senses. In the right order, these are sight, smell and taste. The sense of hearing can also be involved (the sound of the cap coming off, the gurgling of the beer in the glass, the sound of the bubbles bursting as you put your ear to the glass, etc.). 

When you look at a glass of beer, there are three things to look for: the head should stick to the glass, the bubbles should be small and regular and, finally, the colour should be bright, except for beers on lees, such as Blanche (white beer). 

As for the sense of smell, because beer contains more than 650 aromatic compounds, you should first try to detect the dominant fragrance without shaking the glass. You can then swill the beer in the glass to release the secondary aromas. 

When you finally sample the beer, the first stage is to compare the difference in taste between the head and the actual liquid. Once the beer is in your mouth, you should try to detect some basic flavours: sweet (on the tip of your tongue), sharp (on the side of your mouth) and bitter (at the back of your mouth). You can also use your tongue to gauge the beer's density and texture. And don't forget that the sides of your mouth will allow you to detect the beer's alcohol content, astringency and sparkle. Once you have swallowed the beer, your tongue will be impregnated with the basic aromas, and then these will disappear fairly rapidly. This is the point when you can finally assess the beer's bitterness.