Tasting notes are hard things to get right. Here’s some which don’t quite get the job done...
“Good bitterness levels...” As opposed to bad ones, presumably.
“The flavour has a good balance of malt, fruit and hops...” Any particular type of fruit? What about the malt and hops?
“Hoppy finish and aroma...” Phew.
“A strong copper coloured premium bitter with a good malty taste and full hopped aroma.” How to describe a beer I don’t want to drink.
“A well balanced and traditional brew.” That’s all you’re getting for this one.
Here’s one for the IPA police: “An authentic strong India Pale Ale, brewed to a traditional recipe. Beautifully pale with an intense grapefruit hop flavour.”
“A single delicate hop added...” Not one for hop heads.
“A sprung beer, triple hopped, with a complex fruity taste.” I love complex fruit.
“...a gentle bitterness.” They didn’t put enough hops in it then, did they?
“...this strikingly malty beer...” Strikingly malty?!
“Ideal for St George’s day.” With love from the Marketing Department.
“A smooth, medium-strong bitter, full of malt and hop flavours with a sweet aftertaste.” Mmm, I love those delicious generic malt and hop flavours.
“A speciality beer with fruit and hops on the aroma and in the taste. Dry and faintly astringent on the palate leading to a strong, dry and moderately astringent finish.” So it’s dry and astringent? Exactly what I look for in a beer.
There was, however, one note which stood above all the others as the epitome of a lame tasting note: “A gold-coloured beer with an aroma of malt and hops. Well-balanced malt and hops taste is followed by a hoppy, bitter finish with some fruit notes.”
These were all taken from the Planet Thanet beer list. With over 200 beers on for the weekend there are a lot of tasting notes to be compiled, written and edited, and it’s a difficult job given the limited word allowance for each. Aside from these, most of the others were good and gave some interesting information (A classic: “Pale, straw coloured. Strong citrus aroma. Well balanced bittering, long dry finish. A fruity, zesty character.”), so it’s not a criticism of the writing, because it’s a thankless job pulling those together, instead it’s a look at how meaningless some tasting notes can be when describing beers.
I’ve also noticed that I didn’t try any of the beers used as examples above. I wonder how many others didn’t order them because they had no idea what the beer would actually taste like. Ultimately, a tasting note has to make a person want to drink the beer, whether it’s a long form ode or just ten perfectly ordered words. If it doesn’t give some indication of what it looks and tastes like, or some push towards why you should try it, then it’s essentially meaningless.
What are the worst, funniest or most meaningless tasting notes you’ve read? (RateBeer and BeerAdvocate aside)
Last year I wrote about the 10 words used too often to describe beer and they are all on display here. I’m also sure that if you trawl back through the 450+ blog posts on here you’ll find some terrible examples which I’ve written. Consider them circled with a virtual red pen with the words ‘must try harder’ scribbled beside them.