Don’t Forget to Swirl!

Vice president of beer gives a few tips on proper tasting

Clyde Burney grabs his wine glass by the stem with his thumb and first two fingers, and as he ever-so-slightly rotates his wrist, the liquid swirls perfectly in a clockwise direction. He puts his nose right into the center of the glass, takes a whiff, then brings the glass to his lips for a sip.

He repeats the action: swirl, sniff, sip.

“That’s lovely,” Burney says in his distinct New Zealand accent.

That’s also … beer?

And just like that—in about 10 seconds—Burney reveals that, yes, there is a proper way to taste beer (and no, a funnel and plastic tube aren’t part of the process).

Swilling beer is a way of life for Burney, who has been in the beer-distributing business for more than 20 years, spending the last decade with Southern Wine & Spirits where he serves as the vice president of beer. Not only is that title the envy of many a beer drinker (somewhere, Homer Simpson is weeping), but it convinced us that he’s the perfect guy to give you a step-by-step guide to beer tasting in preparation for the inaugural Desert Hops Beer Festival (Sept. 10, Green Valley Ranch), which is sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits and Vegas Seven.