The dos and don'ts of the freshest beer

Enjoy beer at its finest and learn to host the ultimate beer-tasting party!

SAB beers are packaged at their peak flavour, freshness and quality. Once the beer has left the brewery and is on its way to local bars or bottle stores, there are a number of ways to keep it at optimum freshness. Here are six steps from SAB Trade Brewer Anton Erasmus to follow in order to enjoy beer at its finest:

1. Light

Light is the first thing to avoid when it comes to beer as it causes a reaction that alters the physical structure of the hop compounds, transforming them into those which contain sulphur. “One way to see if your beer has been ‘light struck’ is when it has a skunky smell and taste,” says Erasmus. Storing beer in a dark, cool place is best to avoid this potential issue.

Like bread, beer has an expiry date. The longer the beer sits on a shelf the more time it has for oxidisation to take place.

2. Age

Like bread, beer has an expiry date. The longer the beer sits on a shelf the more time it has for oxidisation to take place. This can give beer a cardboard taste. “After weeks of brewing the perfect beer, no brewery wants a consumer drinking a stale, old beer.”

3. Heat

“No one likes a warm beer. It is best to store beers such as lagers at a temperature of 4ºC and ales and stouts at a slightly higher temperature.”

4. Agitation

Too much agitation can speed up the staling process, as you release any dissolved oxygen in the beer when you shake it around too much. “Handle beer gently,” says Erasmus.

5. Freezing

Freezing beer is a huge no-no. When beer is frozen, carbon dioxide is lost, making the beer flat and altering the taste. Frozen beer often results in the cap popping off and the bottle rupturing. “If you are looking for a quick fix to chilling your beer, rather pop your beer in an ice bucket for a quicker and less damaging chill effect,” says Erasmus.

6. Dirty glasses

“A clean glass boosts the foam head, and bubbles will not stick to the side of your glass.” By drinking out of a dirty glass, your beer might be tainted with other flavours and aromas. The best way to ensure a clean glass is to wash with dishwashing liquid, rise soap off and allow to air dry.

HOW TO HOST A BEER-TASTING PARTY

Summer is the perfect time for a beer-tasting party, and Anton Erasmus has put together the ultimate ‘how to' guide. The guide offers you the best way to enjoy your party by pairing great food and even better beer. Erasmus believes that “beer is a tad more versatile than wine, simply because beer is great especially on those hot summer days, when nothing is as  refreshing as a chilled brew.”

Erasmus has noticed an increasing trend towards no- and low-alcohol beers, which allows consumers a safer consumption experience by practising ‘pacing’, combining the consumption of alcoholic beers with alcohol-free beers as a means of moderation. These beers can also be incorporated into the beer-tasting party.

Let’s get started:

1. CONFIRM NUMBER OF GUESTS

When hosting a party, you need to establish how many people you are catering for, and in this case, how many beers you need to purchase (and food to pair with it). Erasmus recommends a six-pack of each beer for a party of 20 people. This works out to three servings per a 340ml bottle of beer.

2. THE BEER

It is always nice to provide guests with more than one flavour of beer. Erasmus suggests the following beers:

CRISP: All round lightness, less body with a sharp crispness and gentle lingering bitterness, such as Castle Lite or Corona Extra.

HOP: Hop bitterness like a Hansa Pilsner with its unique Saaz hop or the Jacob’s Pale Ale from Newlands Spring Brewing Company with earthy and peppery notes.

MALT: Clean, somewhat dry, somewhat bitter, never sweet lager, such as Castle Lager or some roasted, caramel, toffee notes from Jacobs Pale Ale.

ROAST: Rich and smooth with roasted full mouthfeel, like Castle Milk Stout or some chocolate and cocoa notes from Chocolate Stout.

FRUITY: Low bitterness with a distinctive fruity aroma and taste, like The Newlands Spring Co Passionate Blond with its distinctive passionfruit aroma, or Hoegaarden with its orange peel and coriander aroma.

FLAVOURED: There is a variety to select from, such as the Flying Fish range of low bitterness fruit-flavoured beers (orange, lemon and apple). Budweiser is also an option with its honey aroma and traces of citrus fruits.

LOW OR NO ALCOHOL: Responsible consumption is important, so why not include these trendy beers? Examples of alcohol-free beers include Castle Free and Becks Blue.

3. SERVE CHILLED

Beers are best served chilled to optimise the tasting experience. Keep them in the fridge or on ice until they are served, says Erasmus.

4. WATER

To cleanse your palate in between beers, drink water.

5. GLASSWARE

The best part of a beer-tasting is that you are not limited to serving your beers in standard beer glassware. You can have fun and mix things up with a variety of glassware styles per beer style such as standard/classic, snifter/goblet, tulip, flute, pilsner/weizen or stange. “Glasses with a wide bowl and narrow mouth ‘trap’ the beer’s aromas in the glass, making for a better tasting experience. If you do not have a vast selection of glassware, you can even use wine glasses. Also make sure all glasses are clean with no soapy residues as this will kill your beer foam,” says Erasmus. For beer tastings, it is best to use smaller glassware as you will only be pouring the beer into a third of the glass. Remember it is a taster only.

6. SNACKS

As for snacks, make sure you have an assortment of low-flavoured foods so that you don’t compromise your palate. “Snacks such as unsalted pretzels or crackers and raw vegetables such as carrots and celery sticks should do the trick,” says Erasmus.

7. PLATED COURSES

If you really want to wow your guests, host your beer tasting with a food pairing. See some suggestions below. Don’t rush serving each dish because a beer and food pairing is best enjoyed leisurely.

8. DÉCOR

Depending on your style or resources, you can always make printed beer notes, describing the beers that will be served; their aroma and tastes.

9. BLIND TASTER

If you are into entertaining your guests, you could build a blind tasting into the evening’s proceedings. Erasmus says, “Away from eyeshot, pour a beer of your choice into a jug and serve it to guests with the notion they need to guess what beer it is. You can even have a prize for the correct guess – a six-pack of their favourite beer or dinner on you.”

10. DESIGNATED DRIVERS

You want everyone to enjoy their evening and drink responsibly; so ensure everyone has booked a taxi service such as Uber or Bolt to get them home safely.