Beer Flavour Wheel

The Beer Flavour Wheel from Craft Beer World.

It’s the summer of 2012 and I’m lying on my living room floor tracing pencil lines around dinner plates onto A3 sheets of plain white paper. There’s a few balled-up sheets of paper next to me. I’ve got some colouring pencils (some sharpenings are stuck in the carpet and I’ll have to deal with them later), a ruler (I had to go and buy that especially), a marker pen (though I’m a few days away from using that) and a notebook covered in different beer descriptors (which took bloody ages to write). There’s also a copy of the Meilgaard beer flavour wheel, because I think I can come up with a more user-friendly version of it.

The best-known beer flavour wheel is not one for the amateur drinker. It’s scientific, there are words I’ve never encountered in beer before or things which I just didn’t (and in some cases still don’t) understand. And I didn’t really like the colours.

So I started listing the ingredients of beer, then worked outwards from the centre of the circle, filling in different characteristics, which was then finished with a final ring around the outside of what that words represent for the drinking experience.

Draft after draft I scribbled and sketched on circle outlines on large sheets of white paper until finally, a few weeks later, it looked like a useable and useful flavour wheel. I sent it to my publishers, Dog n Bone, who sent it to the designer, and a couple of versions later we got to the flavour wheel you see today, which was published in my first book Craft Beer World. There's some more info on the design process on my old blog, Pencil & Spoon.

My aim was to create a simpler wheel, one with more common words but also one which wasn’t overly simplified and still gave the most relevant terms for the regular beer drinker. Many years later and I still think it works really well. I’m now working on a second version of Craft Beer World (out summer 2020, I think) and it’s probably time for a small update on the wheel…