Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Swallow or Spit?


A little bit of a tiff has arisen on cask-uk about the CAMRA National Beer Scoring Scheme. Now the NBSS has its fans, though I'm not one. Basically you mark beers that you taste and submit the results on line to help in CAMRA choosing its Good Beer Guide entries. As often is the case, this has veered off into a more interesting argument, where one taster completes his scores after getting home. Now I'm the first to grant you that CAMRA has its fair share of nutters, but this seems particularly nutty to me. Why not do your scoring when the beer is being drunk? It seems bizarre to me to rely on memory. It gets odder though, with a different, but just as nutty taster alleging that aftertaste and finish are more pronounced and longer lasting if you spit the beer out. Our old friend Gazza Prescott rightly rebuts this. Comparisons with wine are made, but as Gazza points out, most wine tasting is done in bulk and usually for different reasons than beer tasting.

Putting to one side - we are talking pub beer in this case - that spitting your beer out would likely get you chucked out on your ear from most pubs, what do you make of the tasting but not swallowing argument when it comes to beer?

The photo comes from a google search and can be found on http://www.wildaboutwellington.co.nz/boutique%20beer%20tasting%20tour.htm and is their copyright

11 comments:

Rednev said...

The National Beer Scoring Scheme is for marking how pubs keep their beer rather than for marking individual beers and as such can be done perfectly well from memory. Proof of this is that, while the name and location of the pub and the beer quality score are in mandatory fields, the field for names of the beers you have drunk is optional. I hardly ever insert the name of the beer.

As for spitting beer out, it's as stupid as having a nice car, starting the engine, then switching off and never actually driving it.

Tandleman said...

RedNev - I don't disagree, though as a recipient of the cards, I assure you most people do mark beers. Nonetheless I was pointing out how the argument had developed and was making the general rather than the specific point as it relates to NBSS.

Rednev said...

I know people mark beers, but on the NBSS website, you can only give one overall mark for a visit, even if 10 beers are available. It really should be called the National Pub Scoring Scheme, because that is what it actually is: how the pub keeps its beers, rather than what you think of every individual beer. This makes sense because, as you know, the NBSS is a tool for deciding which pubs go into the GBG.

As for the general point, since you're awarding one mark per visit, you can surely remember by the time you get home what the beer quality was like, unless you've been on a lengthy pub-crawl. After all, when you write about beer quality on this blog, I assume you don't do so while in the pub.

Tandleman said...

Fair point about the on line NBSS. You are right. I don't write my blog in the pub. Thus a lot of excellent material never sees the light of day. Gone in a badly remembered haze.(-;

Rednev said...

Better the dream fondly remembered in a haze, rather than the embarrassing reality ...

Paul Garrard said...

Spitting out beer in wine buff fashion should warrant a public flogging in my book!

Well a slapped wrist at least.

Ed said...

I thought the way it worked was the stronger the booze the less contact you have: whisky you just sniff, wine you spit out but beer you get to drink! :-)

Jeff Frane said...

I like to keep notes whilst I'm on location, up until I reach the point where it's (a) too much work or (b) difficult to stay between the lines. If I wait until I get home, I'll likely have to wait until the next day, and by then everything's a bit fuzzy. I still marvel that Tandleman keeps track of all the pints he's had in the course of a pub crawl--not only what he drank but what condition it was in and whether it was to his taste. I'm lucky I can remember the names of the pubs.

Leigh said...

personally - and this is just me - i dont really get a good handle on a beers taste until a couple of good slurps. So spitting would be totally out of the question!

Jeff Frane said...

The spitting part is silly; the tastebuds for bitterness are at the back of the tongue, almost down the throat. It would make a fine show, I suppose, with tasters hacking before they spit, but I think I'd rather drink elsewhere.

Gazza Prescott said...

"Old friend" eh? I'm younger than you!! (I think...)

But that bloke was talking some right gibberish and I just had to put him right!