Analyzing the Mouthfeel and Body of Beer - dummies

Analyzing the Mouthfeel and Body of Beer

By Marty Nachel, Steve Ettlinger

The tactile aspects of beer evaluation are mouthfeel and body. You can literally feel the beer in your mouth and describe it in familiar physical terms (such as thick and thin). These aspects can be described like this:

  • Mouthfeel: This aspect is the sensory experience of the whole inside of the mouth and throat. You don’t taste cold; you feel it. Finely carbonated beers (with their small bubbles) tend to have a creamy mouthfeel. So a continental lager beer may be effervescent, while a Stout is soft and chewy, but none of these descriptions has anything to do with how the beer tastes. Mouthfeel is how the beer feels (to you — this isn’t about the beer’s self-esteem).

  • Body: In beer competitions, judges use the term body to refer to the weight or thickness of a beer. A light beer is described as light-bodied, an India Pale Ale is considered medium-bodied, and a Doppelbock is full-bodied. Higher carbonation levels help clear the palate and create the impression of a lighter-bodied beer.

    Colorful descriptors, such as wimpy, voluptuous, massive, robust, and chewy, are effective at getting the point across. Obviously, just as with people, one body type isn’t necessarily better than another — thin folks, heavy folks, and everyone in between make the world an interesting place.

Win friends and influence people by using some of the other mouthfeel terms that pros use, such as astringent, crisp, flat, full, gassy, light, sharp, smooth, thin, thick, vinous (winey), viscous, and watery. Phew!