How to Host a Beer Tasting Party at Home
We love beer! And we especially love craft beer. There are thousands of craft breweries across the country, ranging from light to dark, and all waiting for your discovery. There’s nothing quite like finding a fabulous new beer, except maybe helping a few friends discover their new favorite brew at your own beer tasting party.
For those reasons and more, we’re going to share with you some great tips on how to host a beer tasting at your place.
- Pick a theme. Every good party has a theme—even wine tastings are built around themes—and beer tastings should be no different. Some example themes include: Summer Beers, Light vs. Dark, Oktoberfest or simply a type of beer, like Stout.
- Prepare your beers! It’s best if you’ve had a chance to sample the beers yourself before introducing them to your beer tasting guests. That way you can make suggestions and share some of your notes before they give each one a try. Once you have your theme, pick up plenty of your chosen selections at the nearest beer superstore. TIP: This is where a guest count comes in handy. You’ll want to budget about three tasting servings for every bottle, with a couple of extra bottles in case you have some extra thirsty participants or unexpected guests.
- Good beer glasses are just as important as good beer. Ok, maybe not just as important, but they’re number two on the list. You’ll want to sample each beer in a stem glass, not a pint glass. In the event that you don’t have enough of the proper beer glasses, you can certainly use wine glasses instead. Most households have more wine glasses on hand anyway.
- Create the proper atmosphere. If you ask the experts, they’ll say to create a quiet, calm and focused atmosphere for your beer tasting, but what kind of party would it be if there was no music or liveliness? Here’s how you can compromise: have a separate room or section of the house dedicated to the “tasting” portion of the evening. Switch rooms when it’s time to take that first sip of a new beer, then go back around the food table or into the social area of the house when the tasting is finished.
- The actual tasting. You should use all five senses when tasting a beer. First look, smell, taste and feel. The hearing part comes after the first sip, when you begin to discuss with, and listen to, the other guests’ opinions of their samples!
- Pairing each beer with food. Pairing each beer with a specific food is a classy and fun way to feed guests at your beer tasting party. Cheeses and chocolates are the two most typical beer tasting pairings, but you can’t very well survive a night of beer tasting with just those two edible items. Incorporate a meal, perhaps around those two ingredients—cheese goes on pretty much anything, and chocolate makes for a great ingredient in marinades—somewhere into the evening. Serving the meal after the official beer tasting is usually best.
- Cleanse the palate. This one is big! Cleanse the palate with either water or some kind of bread (crackers will also work) in between each beer for the full tasting experience.
Now that you know the steps to hosting a great beer tasting party at home, here are a few more things to think about:
- If hosting a beer tasting is too expensive for your budget, help cut down the cost by asking guests to bring their favorite six-pack to the event and make it a collaborative beer tasting experience. You’ll be challenged with organizing the beers on-the-fly, but it will certainly give you a chance to test out your beer knowledge and hosting skills.
- Organize your beers from light to dark. Start with the light, refreshing beers and move toward those dark, intimidating beers. Even with a light-to-dark line-up, though, you should cleanse the palate in between beers with some crackers or at least a sip of water.
- Sparkling water cleanses the palate even better than still water. It may not be as refreshing to drink, but those bubbles sure do rejuvenate that palate.
- If the budget allows it, send everyone home with a party favor, such as a six-pack, or purchase an extra bottle of beer per each guest (in assorted flavors based on the beers you offered at the tasting) and let people choose which ones they’d like to take home.
- Save the bottle caps. Beer tasting is meant to teach you and your guests which new beers you love (and want to try again). Save the beer caps and give them as souvenirs to those who fell in love with a new beer—and as a reminder of which beer to put in their carts the next time they go to the store.
- Give everyone a pen and paper—or have people pull out their smartphones—to take notes about each beer, ranking its flavor, aroma, appearance and feel. Sometimes saving the bottle caps isn’t enough. You’ll want more detailed notes on what each beer tasted like so you know what to ask for at the bar the next time you feel like having an amber ale.
For even more great beer tasting ideas, visit our Beer Tasting Party Ideas board on Pinterest.
Devora is the Director of Sales at BG Events & Catering.