It’s happened to all of us: you walk into a bar and order a beer expecting something nice. But when you bring it to your lips, maybe something doesn't smell right. You forge on and take a sip... and now you're sure there's something wrong. Even if it doesn't taste downright terrible, it's pretty clear that somewhere along the line, something's bringing that beer down.
Just like wine or any other food product made with natural ingredients, beer is susceptible to a long list of potential problems that can affect the way you enjoy it. They could stem from as early as the first stages of the brewing process to the basement of the very bar you're drinking in. We spend plenty of time looking for what it is in a beer that makes it great... but what about what makes it bad? Because you only deserve the best, we've come up with a list of some of the most common off-flavors in beer you'll find in the wild and how to spot them.
Author's Note: If you’re looking to get a feel for these flavors, you can actually buy an off-flavor spike kit online to try at home through the Cicerone® Certification Program. They’re not cheap by any means, but if you’re serious about learning how to detect any of these, it’s the way to go. If you don’t feel like spending the money on a kit, Draft magazine has a completely free glossary of off-flavors that can be super helpful for getting started.