How long does it take to develop a palate for craft beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by broodog, Jan 29, 2013.

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  1. broodog

    broodog Aspirant (222) Jul 18, 2009 Illinois

    So, I've been drinking craft beer for 5 years. In that time, I tried to expose myself to as many different styles as possible. After the first year, I fancied myself as having an expert palate. This turned out to be far from the truth. To this day, I'm no expert, and I'm continually finding new flavors, smells, and mouthfeels that I hadn't noticed before when drinking previously drank styles and beers. These are my 3 questions.

    How long does it take to develop an expert palate? Is it different for everyone?

    How much credit should we give to reviews/talk of the newbies on the site, who may not know what they're dealing with?

  2. JM03

    JM03 Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2010 Ohio

    The only "expert" palate is your own. Everyone will differ. As far as I'm concerned, I think it is a learning process forever.
  3. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    I think it is just an ongoing thing, there is no set time as your palate can change many times over your drinking career.
    tut2528 and Lantern like this.
  4. MusicaleMike

    MusicaleMike Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Many, many years. You won't get a "right" answer to your question because there are too many variables. You would be able to shorten your palate development if you took courses in detecting off-flavors, worked in a brewery, and traveled around the world drinking beer, trying to drink all different beer styles and representations from each country.
  5. acevenom

    acevenom Initiate (0) Oct 7, 2011 Louisiana

    Remember when you were a kid and certain foods were disgusting to you? Our palates change over time and so do the things we like. The perfect case in point is that I used to not be a fan of IPAs when I started drinking craft beer, but now I have a deeper appreciation of them. It had nothing to do with building up a tolerance for them because my very first IPA was Ruination and I liked that one a lot. But then I tried others and they weren't so great to me. Now I hardly meet an IPA that I don't like. Now pumpkin beers on the other hand...
    broodog likes this.
  6. UT-Alex

    UT-Alex Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2012 Texas

    When does an expert become an expert on anything? I think you're palate is constantly evolving.
  7. ShanePB

    ShanePB Poo-Bah (1,658) Sep 6, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Same here. Absolutely disliked a lot of IPAs early in the game. Love the hell out of them now.
    fullmetal1381 likes this.
  8. Labgrownmangoat

    Labgrownmangoat Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013

    Didn't one of Jared Diamond's books (Outliers) say it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert? Looks like i may still have some work to do. . .
  9. TheJollyHop

    TheJollyHop Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 California

    Malcolm Gladwell...
    You might have more than 10,000 hours to reach expert status :stuck_out_tongue:
  10. KevinGordon

    KevinGordon Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 North Carolina

    the beautiful thing about beer, is that everyone is different, and there is something out there for everyone.
    I'm pretty new myself, and its been a growing process for me.
  11. Mattreinitz

    Mattreinitz Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2012 New York

    Assuming that you leave 8 hours a night for sleep (and hangover recovery) that equates out to roughly 1 beer per hour every hour for the next year and 8 months. Let the beer training begin, see you all in August 2014.
    RobertColianni likes this.
  12. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    There are people who seek out and drink beer strictly for personal pleasure. There people whose fascination with beer leads them to study beer styles and characteristics beyond the pleasure associated with personal consumption.

    The first type of person becomes an expert once he understands himself and his own relationship with beer. I think this takes most people at least a couple years (probably longer), but continues to evolve indefinitely. Your palette evolves, but it can’t be rushed or you’ll simply overload your capacity to experience beer fully. For example, you can’t give a beer beginner every style over the course of a weekend and expect him to process that experience. He may like one or two of the styles. He should focus on those first

    The second type could take a longer or shorter amount of time because it is a field of study. You can't rush your personal relationship with beer, it an organic process, but you can understand beer as an academic pursuit through focus and diligent study. A person can intellectually process various flavor profiles without having much of a personal relationship with them. A cicerone has to understand styles that he doesn’t care for and be able to advise clients on choosing a beer even if he dislikes the style personally.
    loafinaround likes this.
  13. Labgrownmangoat

    Labgrownmangoat Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2013

    Oops, right you are.
  14. VitoFerrante

    VitoFerrante Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

  15. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Not long. As I recently mentioned in another thread, my wife went from drinking Stella out of the bottle to drinking DFH 90 min from a pint glass very quickly. She didn't need to "try fruit beers first" or other stereotypical suggestions people make towards female craft drinkers. She tried the good stuff and never looked back. I remember after a couple of weeks of having some DFH 90 which was at a local place near us at the time, she went back to a Stella. Her face was priceless.

    Anyway, I digress. The answer to your question can be "very quickly."
  16. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    It takes forever. You should never stop learning and therefore you should never stop developing your palate for craft beer as long as there are brewers and drinkers with imagination. Craft beer is still evolving and will continue to do so, and therefore your palate should evolve along with it.
  17. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,032) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Supporter Subscriber

    I've been drinking craft beers for 15+ years, and I'm no expert. I think to be an expert in the eyes of other people who might listen to my evaluation of any particular beer, then I'd have to drink a lot of that beer to be able to create a mindset of the unique qualities of the beer, and to be able to tell when it's old, off-flavored for whatever reason that could be attributed to the ingredients, etc.

    I think a real expert compares the qualities of a beer to his own preferred tastes of his favorite beers in any given style and passes that judgement along to his listeners. It's merely an opinion, and it's up to the listener to determine if he wants to accept that evaluation.
    broodog likes this.
  18. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,183) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    Agree with the posts that say it is an ongoing learning experience and it changes over time. All that really matters is your own palate, and if you are discovering new things even with familiar beers, that's not a bad thing. I think you can develop a taste for craft beers quickly, but then it becomes understanding and that is an evolutionary process.

    One thing that helped me understand the flavors better was home brewing. When I can taste and smell the ingredients on their own, it really created an improved understanding of how the flavors/aromas play in the finished beer. I think even if you don't home brew, it might help getting some ingredients to taste. I found tasting a crystal malt or smelling Cascade hops in the ingredient state was a big help. Flavors imparted by the friendly yeasts - that's more difficult.
    StarRanger likes this.
  19. blkdth1313

    blkdth1313 Initiate (150) May 6, 2009 Pennsylvania

    for me, it was one sip of Bridgeport IPA
  20. PeterJ

    PeterJ Initiate (69) Dec 5, 2012 California

    Zero credit to the reviews. I've seen plenty of reviews of damaged beer where the reviewer didn't know the beer was damaged.
    It's comical sometimes. People at beer shops ask the staff about beer recommendations and will read BA or RB reviews and put the beer down when they see it doesn't have a 95+ on BA.

    As for your palate, some just have a better palate than others. The only way to learn is to taste your beer properly. The goal for beer drinkers shouldn't really be to become an "expert." That is a daunting task and will take the fun out of it. Beer is to be enjoyed to the fullest and the more you worry about detecting the tiniest nuances, the less you will enjoy your beer. And that's what it's all about.

    If you really want to study, I highly recommend talking to BJCP Judges and taking the BJCP course. Some people can do it in a month, and for some it takes many years.
  21. TychoNDC

    TychoNDC Disciple (391) Jan 7, 2013 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Well, from a physiological standpoint, your taste buds do change pretty regularly over cycles of several years (the common saying being 7 years). People do often develop new tastes or preferences during the several months over which these buds develop. So in that sense, your beer palate is definitely going to through cycles.

    From a psychological standpoint, I think your beer palate is a reflection of your past beer experiences. Each beer you sample adds to that library of experiences and contributes to your future tastings.
    jgluck, LeRose and PeterJ like this.
  22. EyePeeAyBryan

    EyePeeAyBryan Crusader (703) Dec 20, 2011 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    ^ This.
  23. tut2528

    tut2528 Initiate (0) Sep 26, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    perfectly stated
  24. TheJollyHop

    TheJollyHop Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 California

    Should have pulled an Ed McMahon and gone with "You are correct sir!"

  25. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 New York

    A minute if you like beer, longer if you're trying to.
    Hoozierdaddy likes this.
  26. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,229) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Everyone is different, there is no one answer.
  27. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    yikes! sorry but id rather spread that out over 20 years. i couldn't imagine being drunk all day for that long.
  28. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Your palate never stops developing. Foods you hated as child may be ones you love now. Foods you loved as a child may be ones you loathe. This goes for the present and your future old-age selves as well. Food, beer, wine, liquor - it will always change.
  29. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    How many ticks does it take to get to the center of craft beer culture?
  30. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Disciple (335) Sep 14, 2011 Missouri

    It's a journey not a destination.
    Dennoman and flayedandskinned like this.
  31. RobertColianni

    RobertColianni Zealot (524) Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    If I drop a 5lb brick of feathers off the top of Willis Tower and a 5lb brick of gold off the top of the Empire State Building at the same time, which train will arrive in Albuquerque first? To get to the other side...
  32. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,229) Mar 18, 2010 California

    All of them.
    RobertColianni likes this.
  33. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    Developing my taste for craft took me exactly one glass of Black Albert.
  34. PeterJ

    PeterJ Initiate (69) Dec 5, 2012 California

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