The Twenty-Point System

A great many systems have been devised in an attempt to assess the quality and qualities of beers, ranging from the common but not-entirely-objective "Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down" method to the Beer Judge Certification Program's intricate fifty-point scoresheet, used in AHA-sanctioned competitions.

I found an excellent compromise in Fred Eckhardt's book "The Essentials of Beer Style". (Part Three, Chapter Two, Page 153.) He describes a twenty-point scale based on four major components:

  • Appearance - up to three points
    • examine the bottle for sediment
    • pour the beer
    • quickly sniff the beer
    • examine the beer in the glass
    • gas release (the beer's, not yours)
    • head condition and stability
  • Aroma - up to four points
    • sniff the beer again
    • aroma
    • bouquet
    • hop nose
  • Mouthfeel - up to ten points
    • hop quality
    • hop intensity
    • sweet/dry balance
    • beer character
    • aftertaste or tail
    • body and palatefullness
    • flavor balance
  • Overall Impression - up to three points

Eckhardt goes into great detail on each of these points, including procedures, definitions of flavor terms, etc. If you don't have this book, BUY IT NOW! Of all the books in my brewing library, this is the last one I'd ever give up.