We’re sure you can believe us when we say we love beer. It’s an amazing thing. Secondly, we love a good beer tasting party. A gathering of your best friends and some tasty beers, what can be better than that? Unlike a regular party, where the main focus is food and conversation, a beer tasting party takes a different role. It’s a time to appreciate the drink we’ve all come to love. It’s a time to find new and old beers to reignite your passion for brewing.
Beer tasting parties are simple to throw and fun to attend. Here’s our tips on how to throw a spectacular beer tasting party.
1. Invite the Right Friends
Seems like a no brainer, but if you’re going to have a beer tasting party, you want the people attending to, first, be of proper age, and second, to like beer. It’s probably not the best time to invite your 18 year old nephew, or the friend who “only drinks champagne.” Invite men and women who are going to be excited to try a wide range of flavors and want to learn something about what they’re drinking. Of course, be sure to invite a few guests that don’t mind being designated drivers.
2. Pick a Wide Range of Beers
Find a liquor store with a wide variety of beers. One that allows you to buy one bottle at a time is preferred. Buy a few beers at random if you like, but also try to find a range of different styles. Make sure to grab a variety lagers and ales, a few seasonal, imported, and domestic. Part of the beer tasting process is comparing a large variety of beers against each other. By having a domestic staple like Budweiser next to a Belgian Ale import, you’ll be able take full appreciation for the latter.
3. Decide on the Type of Beer Tasting Party
There are two ways to have a beer tasting party. The first is by serving a flight of beer, 4 to 5 at a time. The guest is given information about each beer: where it comes from, how its brewed, what flavors they should recognize. Then, the guest can write down a few notes for themselves and decide which beers they liked best.
The other way is to make each beer a mystery until the end. Every guest is given beers that are numbered then they rate each beer by a set rating system. The rating system can be decided by you, but should include rankings such as flavor, mouth-feel, strength, aroma. Each guest can judge their beers accordingly. Then, at the end of the party, each beer is revealed and the beers with highest scorings are awarded.
We enjoy the second option for the fact that it makes each drinker unbiased to the beer. Rather then knowing they’re drinking a domestic beer that they “just know” they don’t enjoy, they are unaware until the very end and must rely on their senses to truly judge the beer.
4. Make a Scorecard
Make a simple scorecard that allows each guest to rate the beers they’re drinking. These can be easily made on the computer. Either label each beer or just use a numbered system, then leave space for each potential scoring option (flavor, aroma, mouth-feel etc). Print enough for each guest with a few extra in case someone spills a little beer on their card.
5. Prepare the Glasses
Make sure to have enough glasses for each guest. It’s best to use similar sized glasses, preferably smaller sample glasses that allows for about a third of a cup’s worth of beer. You can’t serve too much of each beer during a tasting as your guests will get quite full. Smaller glasses that are clear to see the beer’s color and head consistency is best.
6. Organize Beers
When serving the beer, always start with the lightest beers first and move on to the heavier, darker beers. Be aware, though, that color sometimes can be deceiving. The more hoppy, higher alcohol content beers will be heaviest. This allows your guests to not fill themselves too much right away.
7. Have Snacks Available.
Small finger foods, fruits, cheese, and crackers go great with beer. you should encourage all your guests to try a few snacks between each tasting. This helps clear the palate, but also keeps alcohol levels low in the body.
8. Make Sure Everyone has a Designated Driver
The best hosts make sure to take care of every one of their guests. First, make sure to have a few designated drivers or a cab service available for anyone who may have tasted one too many beers. If you do have designated drivers at your party, make sure they have something available for them. A variety of specialty sodas, lemonades, or even non-alcoholic beer is a great way to let your sober guests enjoy the fun with everyone.
The most important part of a beer tasting party is to have fun. Unless you’re a serious beer snob, the party is a good way to try a few beers and have good conversation with some friends. Don’t worry about taking it too seriously or making sure to rate the right beers. Truth be told, there are no “right” or “wrong” beers, only what you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy. That’s different for everyone.
Please, have fun, and be safe at your next beer tasting party. Also remember to include a few of Berghoff’s selection of brews. Classic German beer styles with an American twist, that’s something everyone will love to taste.