Craft Brewers Guide to Building a Sensory Panel

Brewers know their beer intimately because they regularly taste the product at every stage of the brewing process. A brewer’s evaluation of his or her beer can be biased, however, and can be skewed in a way that prevents objective sensory analysis. The sensory attributes of beer require a methodical and deliberate approach to be fully characterized. Consistently producing beer that is free of off flavors and true-to-brand is of paramount importance to the success of any brewery.

The marketplace is competitive, and quality has never been more important to the overall success of a brewery. A trained human palate is a powerful tool and a sensory panel is an essential, fundamental element of any beer quality program. Microbiological, chemical, and physical tests can help ensure that beer meets certain specifications, but if a beer’s flavor is not aligned with the brewer’s intent and the beer drinker’s expectations, then all other measurements are of very limited use.

Beer is one of the most widely consumed and historically relevant beverages our civilization has created and is therefore subject to the influence of our emotions, biases, and other personal preferences. Sensory program managers must acknowledge, understand, and account for human biases and do everything possible to diminish their influence on beer evaluation.


Craft Brewers Guide to Building a Sensory Panel

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The Craft Brewers Guide to Building a Sensory Panel is designed to assist breweries of all sizes implement sensory evaluation as part of their quality management efforts. Like the variety of your beer offerings, your sensory methods will continue to develop based upon growing capabilities, knowledge, size and business complexity.