Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A New Beer Flavour Wheel



I like the established beer flavour wheel, which was introduced in the 1970s by brewing chemist Dr Morten Meilgaard. It works well, it’s easy to read and it goes into a lot of technical detail. But looking at the wheel it includes compounds such as 2-Phenylethanol and Isoamyl acetate, which are pretty technical pieces of information that aren’t exactly common knowledge (2-Phenylethanol is a rose-like aroma and Isoamyl acetate is banana).

So while I like that wheel, it’s not the most consumer-friendly. Doing some research I found wheels for coffee, chocolate (both from here), wine (which is aroma-specific) and whisky, which are easy to use and interesting and break down the tasting experience into a simpler format, just giving recognisable flavours (mostly, anyway; I had no idea what cineolic or camphoric were in the coffee wheel until I googled them – like spicy, woody bay leaf or tea tree, I think).


When I was working on Craft Beer World, I thought I’d try and rework the beer wheel to see what I could do. Not as a replacement for the one we all know, but a wheel which is more approachable for general drinkers; one which looks at the specific ingredients and processes of beer, looks at esters and off-flavours, considers mouthfeel, aroma, flavour and the general experience of beer. Not necessarily one for brewers or the technical troubleshooters, I wanted a wheel aimed at looking for the right word to describe how beer tastes or for figuring out what a flavour is and where it might have come from.

It was just an itch-scratching experiment to begin and I started throwing down words and drawing big circles with lots of lines in and around them, but gradually a useable wheel took shape. And that wheel had a nice flow of flavours to it. So I sent it to my editor, who sent it to the (incredibly patient...) designer, who put something together.

The Beer Flavor Wheel (the book is written in American; or, more accurately, I wrote it in English and someone translated it) I come up with is in the book, which went to print this week and will be out in a few months. And here it is below, the first thing I’m allowed to share from Craft Beer World. I’m really pleased with how this wheel has turned out and I hope that it can be something which drinkers find useful. What do you think? 


20 comments:

  1. I shall buy it if there is a free Dredgie poster to put up in my office next to my Nuts Lucy Pinder poster.

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  2. It's a great idea Mark and would be really useful when trying to put a finger on that elusive smell or "flavor". What are the chances of getting some printed up as promo handouts for the book, or an extra insert?

    Nice work sir

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  3. Great stuff. I love this sort of infographic.

    I'd like to have a portable version I could carry with me and constantly refer to. Perhaps a shiny, foldable A3 type affair. I might even be prepared to pay.

    Dan

    http://mediocrebeeradventures.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Pretty much what I've just said Dan.

      That said, I've just sent a copy of this to my iPhone and iPad as a reference point.

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    2. Thanks guys! We're working on some kind of printed idea for this, whether it's posters or something else. I'd definitely like to have it to use separately from the book.

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    3. Mr. Dredge, did you ever get posters/prints made? Would like to buy one.

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  4. Very nice work :)

    One small correction 2-Methoxy-4-vinylphenol (clove, band aid aroma) is a phenol not an ester

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    1. Cheers Oblivious - it's in with the esters so that it's considered with wit/weiss styles, primarily. Plus I'm only working with a limited amount of space so needed to simplify where possible!

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  5. Nothing to do with beer(since it's cognac), but this is an brilliant looking illustration:

    http://www.bnic.fr/cognac/_en/2_cognac/index.aspx?page=aromes

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    1. That cognac illustration is very nice - I saw that one yesterday. I'd like to work on a couple of other wheels to go into more details.

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  6. Great work! wonderful stuff, entirely agree with the need for more detail.

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  7. Never quite understood the purpose of these things, they're pretty for sure but I would need some help as to how or why I would use it

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  8. I appreciate you've put a lot of time and effort into this Mark, and speaking as a scientist it looks the dog's whatsits. However, speaking as a beer lover, it's far too anal and geeky to be of any practical use - just imagine the bemused looks from fellow drinkers, when you get one of those out in a pub!

    Just enjoy the beer for what it is; don't try to analyse it all the time!

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  9. Great effort - much appreciated!

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  10. Great wheel. I was actually looking for one of these the other day. The ones I found were lacking. This will come very handy in beer reviews. Nice work!

    http://thatbeernerd.com

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  11. Very sorry I missed this a few weeks ago - I've just finished putting together a zoomable beer flavour wheel based on the Morten Meilgaard wheel on Table & Vine.

    http://northwestwarriors.org.uk/d3js/beer-wheel.html

    It's mostly derivative at the moment (javascript is plundered, beer wheel has been around 40 years) but I hope to expand on it and use it on our beer festival website so that visitors can tag beers we're serving interactively.

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  12. These are some great wheels. We recently wrote about this too on out blog at; http://www.theperfectcellar.com/blog/wine-tasting-the-aroma-wheel/ check it out and let me know what you think

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  13. Hi Mark,
    Interesting work. Sometimes we are people working in silos -time for some collaboration?
    Cheers,
    Jens Eiken
    See the Danish Beer Language: http://www.olakademiet.dk/default.asp?pid=45 - download the little booklet

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  14. This is the sort of thing I always want when I go to a beer festival before I become too befuddled with flavours to think straight! Excellent stuff!

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