Beer Tasting Mastery Course [Full Free Training]

It’s time to master those taste testing skills.

Learn how to properly taste beer directly from an expert in the field and start demystifying the fundamentals of beer, one sip at a time.

Develop an expert tasting palate with Beer Tasting Mastery. It’s a 4-week course designed to build your beer vocab, train your taste buds to pick up subtle flavors, and help you identify off-flavors in your brew.

Who’s it for?

  • Homebrewers who want to get better at critiquing (and improving) their beer
  • BJCP Beer Judges and Cicerones
  • Anyone who loves craft beer and wants to get the most out of their hobby

Make no mistake: Tasting skills can be learned.

Beer Tasting Mastery is the fastest path to an expert palate, whether you’re a “natural taster” or not.

The Passionate Homebrewer

If you want to brew batch after batch of your very own, professional-quality homebrew, you’re in the right spot. Our online homebrewing courses have taught thousands of beer lovers like yourself.

Whether you’re brand new to homebrewing, or a seasoned vet in search of advanced techniques, our online courses are the best way to step up your beer game.

Your Instructor: Billy B

Billy founded the Homebrew Academy in 2010 as a resource for aspiring homebrewers, and grew it into one of the most popular homebrewing websites in the world.

Billy is a certified beer judge and his favorite beers styles are American ales and German lagers.

Now Billy teaches homebrewing skills and Beer Tasting Mastery to other aspiring Beer Lovers by sharing the knowledge he has acquried in +20years at the craft.

Expand your palate and sensory experience with the 4-week Mastery Course, complete with homework and Palete Challenges every week.

Welcome – How this Course works

Before getting started, make sure to read the following THREE steps so you make the most out of Beer Tasting Mastery…

STEP 1Download & Print The Sheets Below:

We’ll use the following documents while going through the course!

STEP 2: Buy Your Beer

A large factor in choosing these beers for Beer Tasting Mastery is that they are widely available throughout the U.S. and even internationally. You should be able to find all of these at your local good beer place.

Here are the beers you’ll want to buy: [If not available at your local homebrew store or brewery, links to buy online are provided]

STEP 3: How The Course Works

Beer Tasting Mastery is made up of worksheets, weekly tastings, exercise videos, Tasting Challenges, and bonus training. 

There are four weeks of tasting exercise videos that we’ll do together. These were originally recorded with a live audience, but they are yours to go through at your convenience. 

NOTE: We recommend ONLY doing one of these tasting exercise videos per week (like the live students did). You’ll get more from the course and it’ll allow you to do the other worksheets and Tasting Challenges in the meantime.

In addition to the weekly videos, we have the following two weekly exercises designed to build your beer tasting muscles: The Palate Challenge and Line ’em Up. Here’s how you should go about them:

  1. Do the Palate Challenges before your next upcoming weekly tasting video. For example, do the first Palate Challenge (citrus and tropical fruits) before the first weekly training. The reason for this format is that the Palate Challenges train you to notice new flavors. By doing this exercise before the weekly training, you’ll get more out of those tasting experiences.
  2. Then, do the Line ’em up exercises after the upcoming weekly training videos. For example, do the first Line ’em Up between the first and second weekly trainings. The reason for this format is that the Line ’em Up exercises use the same style of beer that we tasted in the weekly training.

So, by doing Line ’em Up after the weekly training (and the Palate Challenge), you’ll have much-improved tasting skills and have more knowledge about the beer you are drinking.

Stick to this schedule as best you can, but don’t panic if you need to shuffle things around. If you need to do two Palate Challenges in one week, that is fine. But for the best learning experience, try to follow the schedule given here.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Beer Tasting Mastery – Palate Challenge

Tips for doing the Palate Challenges

  • If possible, have a partner help you out by holding the foods up to your nose for you. Have them tell you your score at the end.
  • If you’re doing the challenge solo, you’ll need some way to mark your answer. A good way to do this is to put a piece of tape on the side of the cup and then write your answer on the tape with a pen or pencil. You could also write your answer directly on the cup, but make sure you use a no-odor marker (i.e. No Sharpie).
  • Chop up or juice the foods to release more aroma.
  • Place coasters over the cups until you’re ready to smell them. This will trap in the aromas.
  • If you guess all of the foods correctly, make it more difficult on yourself the next time. Instead of comparing an orange to a lemon, for example, try comparing different types of oranges.

Week 1 Palate Challenge: Citrus and Tropical Fruits

This challenge will train you to pick up common fruit flavors found in beer. This will especially help when it comes to identifying hop characteristics, but will train you to identify some yeast flavors as well.

Pick at least 5 from the list below:

  1. Lemon
  2. Lime
  3. Orange
  4. Grapefruit
  5. Pineapple
  6. Mango
  7. Papaya
  8. Banana
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Passion Fruit

Week 2 Palate Challenge: Dark Grains, Crystal/Caramel Malt, Nuts

This challenge will help you pick out flavors commonly found in maltier beers like Scottish ales, stouts, porters, and brown ales.

Pick at least 5 from the list below:

  1. Dark roast coffee
  2. Light roast coffee
  3. Cacao powder
  4. Milk chocolate (chips, morsels, or bar)
  5. English Toffee (bits or bars)
  6. Caramel (candies)
  7. Peanuts
  8. Almonds
  9. Walnuts
  10. Cashews

Week 3 Palate Challenge: Spices

This challenge will help you pick out flavors commonly found in yeast-driven beers like German wheat beers, Christmas and Pumpkin beers, and Saisons.

Pick at least 5 from the list below:

  1. Black pepper
  2. White pepper
  3. Clove
  4. Coriander
  5. Allspice
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Star Anise
  8. Cardamom
  9. Cumin
  10. Nutmeg

Week 4 Palate Challenge: Dark Fruits

This challenge will help you pick out flavors commonly found in beers like Trappist ales, Barleywines, and Old Ales.

Pick at least 5 from the list below:

  1. Plum
  2. Date
  3. Fig
  4. Raisin
  5. Black Currant
  6. Dark Cherry
  7. Blackberry
  8. Blueberry
  9. Raspberry
  10. Prune

Line em’ up Challenge

How to do the Line em’ Up Challenge

Do just one Line ’em Up and you’ll be amazed at how beers you thought were very similar are actually very different. This exercise will train you to pick up small nuances between beers of the same style.

This is not a blind tasting. You’re not picking a winner (at least that’s not the goal of this exercise, though it’s fine to do as a secondary thing).

Instead, you will move quickly back and forth between beers and compare every single attribute. And this is key — you will write them down.

Here’s what to do:

Step 1
Select three beers of the same style. The closer to the same style the beers are (e.g. comparing three American pale ales instead of one American pale ale and two English pale ales), the more difficult this will be. But it will also be more enlightening. Beer suggestions are provided below.

Step 2
Arrange the beers side by side (line ’em up!) and pour them into identical tasting glasses. Clear crystal plastic cups work great (see the image below). Don’t use tinted cups. Fill the cups roughly halfway.

Step 3
Using the Tasting Notes Comparison worksheet below, work through the 5 attributes: aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. Work left to right across the worksheet. So compare the aroma between all three beers, then compare the appearance between all three beers, etc.

Make notes about the qualities you notice. Compare the beers in your notes, too. For example, say “[Beer 1] has the most intense hop aroma of the beers. It is grassy, while [Beer 2] and [Beer 3] are piney.”

Step 4
Use the Aroma and Flavor Intensity Comparison worksheets below to help you gauge intensity. For example, how intense are the hop aromas between the three beers? The idea here is that all aroma & flavor is relative.

This exercise gives you a visual representation of how your three beers compare to each other. The specific location on the scale is not as important as where the beers fall relative to one another.Place a mark for each beer on the scales. I like to use the first letter of the beer. So if it’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I’ll put an “S” on the scale for that beer. Firestone Walker would get an “F”.

Step 5
Completely fill out the worksheets. And then save them! You’ll want to go back to them a few weeks and months from now. You’ll be shocked at how much more detailed you become as your skills grow.

It’s especially fun to go back and do the same three beers again after you’ve achieved your “master beer taster” palate.

Have fun!

Beers Needed for Line ’em up

Week 1
American Pale Ales (Pick 3 from the suggestions below)
1. Sierra Nevada
2. Dale’s Pale Ale
3. Firestone Pale 31(retired): Update: 420 Extra Pale Ale
4. Mirror Pond
5. Flying Dog Pale Ale
6. More Suggestions

Week 2
Oatmeal Stouts (Pick 3 from the suggestions below)
1. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
2. Goose Island Oatmeal Stout
3. Rogue Shakespeare Stout
4. Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin
5. Bells Oatmeal Stout
6. More suggestions

Week 3
Hefeweizens (Pick 3 from the suggestions below)
1. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
2. Paulaner Hefeweizen
3. Ayinger Brau-Weisse
4. Schneider Weisse
5. Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse
6. More suggestions

Week 4
Belgian Dark Ales (Pick 3 from the suggestions below)
1. Chimay Première (Red)
2. Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)
3. Trappistes Rochefort 8
4. Delirium Nocturnum
5. Ommegang Abbey Ale
6. More suggestions

How to Evaluate Beer Video


Continue to Section 1: America & Hops