If I want to fully appreciate what a beer is offering, how do I properly taste the beer to reveal all the nuances in the aroma, flavor and aftertaste?
Beer Advocate's Guide is a decent one. The abridged version is:
- Look at the beer. How's the color and head?
- Swirl it a little bit to pull out the aroma
- Smell it. Swirl again if need be. I recommend taking a 20 second break after smelling, then smelling again, since if you smell too long, your nose gets used to it and it becomes harder to pick up the notes.
- Sip it. Don't swallow immediately, but keep it on your tongue for a moment. Breath out with it still in your mouth and pay attention to the resulting smell (unless you just ate a bunch of garlic before the beer).
- Taste again as the beer warms up a bit.
According to Oz Clarke, you should burp the beer (to judge the hops).
See this clip from Oz & James Drink to Britain (episode 1, starting at about 2:28):