In coming days, I expect to be taking part in a number of beer tasting sessions with new and old friends.

We will be reviewing a selection of some of the more exciting beers I’ve found on the market in recent days and weeks.

I am looking forward to the occasions. I love sharing an evening with good people over a good beer.

I firmly believe that drinking beer should be more a matter of inspiration than desperation — especially when it comes to tasting the incredibly fine offerings there are out there if you are only willing to get quietly adventurous.

So while all of us may never share a beer, I can share some of the things I’ve learned over the years about having a good evening with great beer.

There are a couple ways you can have a beer tasting session.

First, grab a six pack. Chug a beer or two. Let loose with a good burp. And say, “That was great!” While that may be the more common method in too many circles, I’d suggest something a little different.

Let’s take a look at how you can best get the most enjoyment out of a sit-down with a good brew.

First, pick something nice. Something you haven’t had before. Something that looks interesting.

Get a nice broad brimmed, clean glass - same style glass for all of those joining you at the table.

A CLEAN glass.

(This is really important. It is astonishing how quickly a little residue, gunk, or leftover beer from yesterday can ruin the taste of a good brew.)

Holding your glass at about 45 degrees, pour the beer enthusiastically, hitting the side about half way down. When you get it about half full edge the glass upward while continuing to pour aiming at the center of the glass.

This will create a good head, and one that is standard for every person at the table. You want to get a good head on the beer because that is where the most of the aroma is going to be released. 

People don’t realize the head is very scented. You’ll get the first blast of hops and malts while sniffing the foam head.

BUT ... don’t start smelling just yet.

Look first at what you’re drinking. You’ve got to appreciate the fact that the distinctive color is the result of a lot of dedicated work by a brewmaster someplace. Check the color, clarity, and the play of light on the brew. Try to describe the color. 

It’s fun. (Don’t get a strong backlight behind the glass. Just a nice natural light will do just fine. Natural light will actually create a better, truer revelation of color.)

Now, gently swirl the beer around in the glass to allow the scents, background aroma, and hints to reach the air. Swirling the brew around a bit will force the carbonation in beer to carry even the most delicate scents to the surface.

Smell deeply. Get your nose down in the glass and smell using both your nose and a slightly open mouth.

Swirl it a bit more if you think there is something hiding - some secondary smell.

Close your eyes. Enjoy the sensory experience. Think about it a bit.

Now, take a sip.

A good sip, enough to not quite fill but to offer a good ‘wash’ around the mouth.

Don’t swallow. Let the beer ‘travel’ around the mouth hitting all the different taste bud areas.

Feel how it feels - the ‘body,’ the consistency, the flow. Don’t force it around like you might with mouthwash.

Let if move, travel, visit. Search for the different tastes. Explore. Find hidden hints of flavor that may be subtle and in the background.

Then ... swallow.

Now, friends, you don’t need to do this with every sip.

Please don’t.

When you’re done, you’re done.

Don’t be silly.

It’s still only beer.

You’ve completed your exploration. Now, enjoy the rest of the brew in the company of good friends.

The point isn’t the brew. The point is the experience - and any experience is best shared with good friends.

Enjoy.

Wake up dead Left hand brewing co. Longmont, colo.

I have found it difficult to sample a Imperial Stout - Russian or otherwise - that I didn’t find at the least interesting, and at the best inspiring.

Wake Up Dead may not be quite at the inspiring point on the scale, but it is way over there.

This bottle was gifted me by some friends. It is very, very good made even better by the thought and consideration..

Wake Up pours black - very, very black. No nuances here. It is black. The building of a head starts a little late in the pouring process. (The nitro thing, I guess.) When a good head is formed, it’s solid and lingers quite a while. The foam is creamy, light brownish, and ever so inviting.

Wake Up is packed with aroma. There is a lot of sweet fruitiness at the get go, with a hefty scent of the malted grains expressed best as the expected chocolate-coffee blend.

There is just a touch of a booziness in the scenting.

It is a heady combination.

With first wash there is a blast of a somewhat vanilla tinged chocolate taste. There is a wonderful caramel background support with bolts of coffee and maltiness following up. This is a tasty Imperial with all the characteristics one can expect from such a brew - and well blended.

Wake Up is creamy and smooth. I’d suggest it was medium bodied in mouthfeel, maybe leaning a touch to the heavier side.

This is a serious beer well worth serious consideration with some serious friends.

Draft Beer Jelly Beans Jelly belly jell bean Co. Fairfield, calif.

Yes. I am reviewing jelly beans.

On a day when the news room staff at the Pioneer not only got a taste of roasted crickets (yes, crickets!) we also got to sample Draft Beer Jelly Beans.

The verdict?

You simply have to find some and try ‘em out!

Jelly Belly is well known for their unique and exotic selection of jelly bean flavors.

The Draft Beer variety taste very much like ...draft beer.

They really do! A light, pilsner style beer. Not a beer I would necessarily be buying. But beer nevertheless.

They are ...odd.

So ...

Draft Beer Jelly Beans have a wonderful golden yellow, very beery color.

When popped, (as opposed to poured!), there is no head whatsoever!

They don’t really smell like beer, but they certainly do taste like a light, probably somewhat watery beer.

The mouthfeel is decidedly different from any beer I have reviewed over the past 108 columns.

It’s a jelly bean!

Draft Beer Jelly Beans are fun.

That’s all there is to it.