Developing a Palate for Malty Beers?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JesseMurdock, Jul 2, 2013.

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  1. JesseMurdock

    JesseMurdock Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Hawaii

    I am pretty new to the BA world, only been into craft beer for about 4-5 months, so I had a question that I was hoping some more experiences BAs could help me with. Before getting into craft, i thought IPAs and hoppier beers in general were awful. However, I quickly grew to appreciate them. I have grown to like a number of different beer styles, but I find that a lot of the sweeter, maltier beers do not agree with my palate, namely brown ales, scotch ales, doppelbocks, etc. While everyone talks about developing a palate for hoppier beers, does developing an appreciation for maltier beers also take time? Or are these styles probably styles I will rarely appreciate?
    devlishdamsel likes this.
  2. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,067) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Don't try anything 'too high' gravity to start. When Oktoberfest time comes around maybe start with a few of those. Some great ones are Ayinger or Hacker-Pschorr, with a rich malt character and enough balance from the hops. Don't try American ones- they are generally too caramelly and cloying, and the balance is way off- they definitely won't ease you into appreciating malty beers.

    Maybe also some Munich Dunkels, depending on what you can get in Hawaii (Ayinger, again, has a great one.).
  3. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    I didn't like malty beers for a long time, I thought they were too sweet and syrupy. I'd start by trying things in small doses, like a sampler flight at a bar. That way you get the taste without being overwhelmed. I'd give the same advice to someone trying to get into hoppy beers, or sours, or any flavor that they aren't used to.
  4. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (2,777) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    I think it does, absolutely, refine over time, just like with IPAs. That said, I agree with the above: start small. A good Oktoberfest brew, maybe a Belgian Pale Ale, bocks, et al. Even a Tripel (especially since you like hops). Get something smooth but not overly malty, but that focuses on the same type of stuff. You can go from a Belgian Pale to a Dubbel or Quad fairly quickly (in my opinion).
    JesseMurdock likes this.
  5. JimKal

    JimKal Devotee (496) Jul 31, 2011 North Carolina

    While I do prefer IPAs as my favorite style, I tend to be more seasonal with some of the other styles. this summer I've been enjoying some different wheat beers and wits. With fall, I do like some of the Octoberfests. Despite what some have said, I do think you can find some good American craft versions. I enjoyed both the one from Sam Adams and the one from Victory. Also during fall and winter, I really enjoyed Brooklyn Brown, a nice hoppy brown.
  6. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Turn off your brain (initially). Just enjoy the yummy sweetness like you would a piece of pie. Over time you'll discover the depth and complexity of a Scotch ale or doppelbock. And the booze kick. Damn.
  7. Cvescalante

    Cvescalante Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Saying "yummy" and "damn" in the same post is unacceptable! Haha...
    Not bad advice at all though. I definitely agree that you have to get over what you think a beer should be, and enjoy it for what it is, and those flavors that you already love will come out.
  8. Hanglow

    Hanglow Zealot (587) Feb 18, 2012 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Malty is to sweet as hoppy is to bitter.

    Learn to differentiate.
    OLSKOOLKEG likes this.
  9. JesseMurdock

    JesseMurdock Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Hawaii

    @TongoRad, i actually tried an Ayinger Dunkel a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. Thanks for the tip on Oktoberfest beers, I'll definitely keep an eye out for any that make there way out to Hawaii.

    @Roguer, I actually like a lot of the sweeter Belgian offerings I've had. I think the yeasty flavors help to prevent the syrupy, sweet flavors in a scotch ale or doppelbock.
    TongoRad likes this.
  10. MADhombrewer

    MADhombrewer Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2008 Oregon

    +1 to this.

    While it is easy for me to find a good Porter or Stout, I have a had a hard time getting into these styles as well. I am now of the mind frame they they may just not be for me. Oh well.
  11. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    America isn't overflowing with excellent examples of the malty styles like it is with IPA's and Pale Ales. Also, freshness is a big factor. German imports, for example, are almost never fresh. I think Belgian imports (Dubbels, Tripels) might be the best place to start.
  12. Thads324

    Thads324 Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2010 Connecticut

    I go in waves with this. Right now I'm on a malt kick. Been drinking lots of Scottish ales, stouts and porters lately. Just had a very nice Edmund fitz.
    In a few weeks, I'll have nothing but hoppy beer to drink.
    I think mixing it up and like tongorad said staying in lower abv territory is a good idea. Have a single ipa, then try something easy going yet malty. Slowly work your way up to the bigger stuff. It'll come with time.

    Also, hit up some Beerfests. They are a perfect way to discover new styles and or new brands that appeal to you
    cyrusthepup likes this.
  13. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Defender (602) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    You'll need to find that gateway malty beer. With anything, it's difficult to start at've got to ease yourself into it. Where that threshold is, you'll have to discover for yourself.

    Sounds like fun.
  14. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 New York

    I'm a seasonal drinker, so tend to avoid malty beers when it's warm out, but as soon as that first autumn wind blows I find maltiness becomes the the thing I desire. So for me it would make perfect sense to not find the appeal of a brown ale or. Doppelbock in July.
  15. Hopinista

    Hopinista Initiate (0) Mar 11, 2013 Nevada

    You can try, but it doesn't always happen. I've been open to trying malt-heavy beers for years now, and I still don't have a single malt-heavy beer I go back to on a regular basis. Except a six pack of SN Tumbler once a year.
  16. brureview

    brureview Meyvn (1,322) Jan 20, 2012 Massachusetts

    I greatly enjoy malty beers. When you are drinking any beer, make sure that initially,
    you get a good nose( aroma). Some beer reviewers put their nose close to the glass
    and cover the glass to appreciate the aroma. The aroma may have some maltiness to it,
    depending on the beer. Also, be sure to think about the mouth feel, then the taste,and the finish, which
    will further enhance your appreciation for the beer, especially if it is malty.

    I read somewhere recently that aroma contributes far more to the flavor. You
    can more fully enjoy the taste profile, including its malty character of the beer via its aroma.
  17. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,244) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I think some of the best malty beers are the simplest ones. You don't have to begin with the big guys like scotch ales and doppelbocks.
    Look to some Amber/Red ales that have been around since the late 90's/early 2000's. That's back before everything got a zillion IBU's by default. Those beers tend to be sweeter and maltier without being super strong or cloying either.
    TongoRad likes this.
  18. LMT

    LMT Initiate (0) Oct 15, 2009 Virginia

    I just read "Gulp" by Mary Roach and she explained this concept. When you take food or drink in, the aroma from it travels through the back of your throat and then up to the nasal cavity. The aroma activates olfactory receptors at the same time taste receptors in the mouth are stimulated. However, the brain does not weight these inputs equally when determining flavor.

    If I remember correctly it's something like 70% of an item's perceived "flavor" is actually due to aroma.
    brureview likes this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,122) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “I find that a lot of the sweeter, maltier beers do not agree with my palate, namely brown ales, scotch ales, doppelbocks, etc.”

    A number of folks think that sweet= malty. I view sweet and malty as being two different qualities. Malty to me can mean flavors like bready, toasty, cracker like, pilsner malt like, etc. A beer can have the qualities of sweet and malty at the same time. Beer styles that reflect sweet and malty are Eisbock, Doppelbock, Scotch Ale. Beers that are more malty than sweet are Stouts, Porters, Oktoberfest. It is my guess that you would prefer the beer styles that accentuate malt vs. the sweet aspect.

    Here is a figure that may be of help to you:

    meefmoff, jgluck, Beerista and 12 others like this.
  20. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Zealot (596) Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    I've always leaned towards the malty, darker styles...I really had to develop a palate for IPAs & hoppy beers, which I've definitely come around in the last few years just from the constant trial & error of buying & trying single beers via mixed sixers...
    breakingbland likes this.
  21. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,408) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Jack thanks for that. What a great visual tool for a little education in the malt quality of different styles.
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,122) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “ .malt quality of different styles.” To expound upon my original post, there are different ‘classes’ of malt flavors. For example:

    · Dry Stouts typically have malty flavors of roasted malt (e.g., coffee)

    · Porters may have some malty flavors of roasted malts but frequently they have other dark malt flavors (e.g., chocolate, toffee-like, etc.)

    · German brewed Oktoberfest beers may have malty flavors of bready, toasty, etc.

    · German Pilsners may have prominent German pilsner malt flavors

    · Etc.

    Some people may like certain malty flavors but not others. For example, I am not a big fan of Dry Stouts since I do not find heavy roast flavors (coffee) appealing in beer.

    JimKal likes this.
  23. Feel_the_Darkness

    Feel_the_Darkness Disciple (313) Oct 17, 2012 Virginia

    Malts are the way to go. Too much bitterness just does not suit me in beer. The lower the IBU's, the more into it I am. But with that being said, like what you like. Don't front on enjoying smooth, delicious, malty beers just because other people do.
    breakingbland likes this.
  24. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Jack, good point on malty vs. sweet. A good Oktoberfest is malty and finishes neutral to dry. Sweet is not dry in the finish.
    steveh and TongoRad like this.
  25. JimKal

    JimKal Devotee (496) Jul 31, 2011 North Carolina

    An interesting observation. I know that I like some stouts, those with a coffee or chocolate notes, I've yet to find a Porter that I like. Although close in taste characteristics on your chart, the slight changes impact the way I perceive the beer. When I look at the chart I find styles in every quarter that I like close to others that I don't. I hesitate to use quantitative words ( tastes good or tastes bad) because I view them as subjective overstatements. We all don't like the same thing - thank God for that!
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,122) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “A good Oktoberfest is malty and finishes neutral to dry.” I agree 100% with that statement as written.

    Unfortunately I also agree with the overall notion that Michael (BA TongoRad) mentioned of: “Don't try American ones- they are generally too caramelly and cloying, and the balance is way off.”

    I am selective about the American Oktoberfest beers that I drink since I prefer the malty/dry aspect and I really don’t like the sweet/cloying aspect of some (many?) American brewed Oktoberfest beers. My favorite American brewed Oktoberfest beers of 2012 were:

    · Sly Fox Oktoberfest

    · Ramstein Oktoberfest (High Point Brewing)

    · Shiner Oktoberfest

  27. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Did say good! :slight_smile:
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,122) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup! And I emphasized the word good in bold.

    I hope that you and your family have a great 4th of July!

  29. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,067) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Right-o, Jack. That's why I used the word 'generally'- there are some good ones, but they do seem to be fairly localized (and most likely not available in Hawaii). Heck, I live a 45 min. drive from High Point and would have to actually make the trip if I wanted a growler of any of their lagers. I'm sure there are also some good ones in the Great Lakes region, and Old Mecklenberg in the Carolinas seems to have some good buzz about it.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  30. MrBluto

    MrBluto Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2012 Michigan

    I love malty beers but agree it is an acquired taste. I find that if they are served too cold (which is often the case at most establishments) they are not as good and the flavor complexity cannot be appreciated. So, let them warm up a bit, though not too much. Also, you might want to try double (or triple) IPAs and anything with "imperial" in the name. These beers tend to have a very nice balance of high IBUs (hoppiness) and bold malt flavor.
  31. stella77artois

    stella77artois Devotee (498) Nov 4, 2010 New York

    I agree. I used to stay away from dark beers in general until I was about 22, now doppelbock is one of my favorite styles. You most likely can become a fan. However, if you honestly try several and still don't find yourself a fan, no sense in drinking something you don't like.

    You might also want to try bock's before diving into doppelbock's. There really aren't a ton of bock's around, but do some research and if you can find some, try it out.
  32. JesseMurdock

    JesseMurdock Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Hawaii

    good response! the chart is especially useful. i guess i should have been more clear in my OP. There are a lot of maltier beers I like, stouts, porters, abbey styles. But I generally dislike beers that have a sweet flavor coming from the malts used, as opposed to the bready malty flavor, or sweetness that comes from fruity nootes.
  33. brureview

    brureview Meyvn (1,322) Jan 20, 2012 Massachusetts

    Thanks for the chart. Although Pilsener can be mostly malty, I drank a Jacks Abby 2nd anniversary IPL which is both malty and fruity.
  34. asdfx0rz

    asdfx0rz Initiate (20) Mar 5, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I think it may be important for you to spend some time reflecting on the beers you have had that you didn't enjoy, rather than moving on to ones that you do enjoy. Try and narrow down what it is about them that you don't like. I honestly can't relate. I love wicked sweet brews, English Barleywines in particular. I think it takes a much more developed palate to enjoy than the current wave of hop bombs floating around in the market. In my opinion, hops are like tomatoes. You have beefsteak, heirloom, cherry, and roma, but they are all still tomatoes in the end, and have the same general flavor. Try and push yourself through beers you don't like, and you might be surprised what you might end up liking in the long run.
  35. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I love how Kolsch is right smack in the middle. Dare I say it's the most balanced brew????
    JackHorzempa and utopiajane like this.
  36. Premo88

    Premo88 Meyvn (1,497) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    For sure ... one can do much worse than a good Kolsch. A nearby Texas brewery has a summer seasonal kolsch that's got damn near everything you need for a strong-tasting but easy-to-drink summer beer -- plenty of sweeter malt with just a slight hint of spice. Karbach's Love Street

    Love Street is another example of how awesome malt can be in its various forms.
    Providence likes this.
  37. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    I wish it was about developing a palate. Unfortunately my Stomach hates Super malty beers. I would say have them in smaller amounts and try some really amazing Barrel aged versions. Sometimes it is also helpful to eat food as well, it enhances the taste and cuts through the viscosity!
    JesseMurdock likes this.
  38. Casey3236

    Casey3236 Defender (695) Sep 14, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    This is solved through a simple two step process:
    1. Drink a Bourbon County Brand Stout
    2. Realize you love malty beer.
  39. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I love that chart, but I must say it makes no sense to me at all that "fruity" is the opposite of "malty." In that awesome Jack's Abby beer, for example, the frutiness comes from the hops and goes great with the maltiness from the grain bill. And while we're on the subject, sweet isn't really the opposite of bitter. Take DFH 120minute for example, which is extremely sweet and extremely bitter.
    brureview likes this.
  40. brureview

    brureview Meyvn (1,322) Jan 20, 2012 Massachusetts

    Looks like I have to revisit DFH 120 to look for the combination of sweetness and bitterness.
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