How to Host a Beer Tasting Party in 5 Easy Steps
For years, beer was considered a working-class beverage that had no place at a fancy party. Wine and cheese platters were commonplace among entertainers, but beer was relegated by barbecues and keg parties. In recent years, however, this trend has begun to change. The proliferation of microbreweries and craft beers has opened up a wider variety of tastes to explore, and many more people are enjoying beer than ever did in the past. This has allowed beer tastings to gain in popularity and prominence, and they're a fantastic way to spend some time with friends or family.
If you're interested in hosting your own beer tasting party, here are some steps to help you get started:
Step 1: Pick a Theme
Having a theme for your beer tasting party will help all the others pieces fall into place and make planing much easier. Themes could include any one of these ideas:
- Sample regional or local beers
- Blind taste high rated beers
- Blind taste and rate home brew
- Sample multiple beer styles
- Sample multiple beers of the same style or category
- Sample a range of beers from a single brewery
- Pair beer with food
- Sample barrel-aged or vintage beers
- Sample Trappist beers
- Sample beers from a specific country
- Potluck - BYOB
Step 2: Pick the Food
You should provide some food to go along with the beer. This will keep your guests from getting too tipsy or too hungry. Decide whether you'll do food pairings or simply a cheese platter. It can be a lot of fun to pair a full meal with a well-matched craft beer, but this choice can be time-consuming. Although there's nothing wrong with simply offering a taste of a variety of beers, your party will be most successful if you pair the beers with food that will amplify the beer's delicious flavor. Visit a local cheese monger if possible to help choose the best possible cheeses to match your beers. If that's not possible, there are a few guidelines you can follow. Mild cheddars match well with light lagers, and aged gouda is exquisite with a nutty brown ale. In addition to cheese, don't forget the possibilities presented by salty foods, fruits and even chocolate.
Step 3: Choose the Beer
Refer back to step one and buy the beer based upon your desired theme. There are so many beer varieties to choose from that narrowing down your selection may be difficult without having a theme. Consider choosing one representative of a few major types, such as a stout, a wheat beer, a pilsner and an IPA. Alternatively, try several brands of one type of beer, or try a few varieties from a single brand. You can also advise your guests to each bring a beer of their choice to keep your expenses down.
Step 4: Select the Gear
If you have several types of beer to try, consider doing a sampling instead. Be sure to have plenty of beer sampling glasses available for your guests. Remember that some beers are best served in certain types of glasses, so be sure to pick up a the proper beer glassware.
If you are sampling a number of beers in small portions, consider having flight glass sets available for each guest.
In the center of the table, arrange platters of cheeses, crackers and any other accompaniments. Also provide each guest with a tasting glass or two. A second glass helps to reduce pressure on your guest to drink or dispose of a beer before the next round of tasting. Also have a bucket ready for guests to dump out any beers they don't like.
Step 5: Serve the Beer
Consider four things when serving beer:
- Serve beer at the proper temperature
- Serve beer in the proper glass
- Provide ice water for hydration and cleansing the palate
Have the proper glasses available for each beer available for your guests. Take a look here for a helpful guide for pairing glasses: Beer Glass Types
As you serve each beer, try to educate your guests a little about what they're drinking or offer suggestions for food pairings. By facilitating conversation, you can ensure that your guests can enjoy themselves fully while appreciating the delicious beers you have to offer.
Don't forget to offer your guest plenty of ice water to ward off hangovers and to help cleanse the palate.