What to know before hosting the best beer tasting party
With all parties, there’s some prep-work involved — and with a beer tasting, your drink selection, supplies, and snacks will make a world of difference. It’s all about the experience.
1. Keep it intimate
If you host a casual beer tasting party at home, keep your guest list under 10 people for the best beer tasting experience. You want to be able to discuss each beer with each other, and a larger party could become hard to control.
Plus, the more people you invite, the more alcohol you’ll need to provide, which could make your beer tasting event cost you a pretty penny. Keep it intimate, so your money is well spent, and all of your guests can express their opinions without being talked over. To set the scene, transform your home into a taproom or turn your backyard into a cute beer garden.
2. Cater to your guests’ tastes
Beyond a manageable guest list, you’ll want to know the beer lovers’ drinking preferences. By doing so, you can create a selection of flavorful beers perfectly suited to their tastes.
Casual beer drinkers may appreciate the chance to come together to share a brew with friends, regardless of the style of beer. But if you have friends who are craft beer connoisseurs, you want to ensure that your options cover all their tastes. You wouldn’t want to provide only stouts and dark beers if your guests love light ales and lagers. Conversely, having only hoppy India pale ales (IPAs) would disappoint a guest who loves fruity sours.
You could host a craft beer tasting with one beer style if you want to narrow it down. For example, you could choose four IPAs from local microbreweries and spend the night comparing them. Or pick your selection from your favorite flavored beer brands and taste the variety of fruit flavors.
3. Know what you’re talking about
Before purchasing your selection for your beer tasting party, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the spectrum of beer styles (if you’re not already in the know).
Two main beer types exist — ales and lagers — and under those types, various styles occur due to brewing and fermentation processes.
The common styles you’ll find under the ales are:
- Wheat beer
- Pale ale
And the popular styles of lagers are:
- Pale lager
Savvy brewers can achieve different beer styles using certain yeasts, hops, and malts — and over 100 styles of beer fill bottles, cans, kegs, and casks around the world, and that number continues to increase. To inspire your beer tasting party ideas, you might look to include the best domestic beers or curate a menu of imported craft brews.
4. Gather the right supplies
You’ve got your guest list and your thoughtfully-curated selection of beer; now, you need to stock up on party supplies to make sure the event runs smoothly. Here are a few tips to keep your guests happy and engaged:
- Make sure you have the right beer glasses for the event. You can decide whether you want to serve flights of beer in small 4-ounce tasting glasses or go full throttle with 16-ounce pint glasses.
- Arrange a selection of pretzels, cheese, nuts, and crackers for your guests. They can snack on these between new beers — it’s an excellent way to cleanse the palate.
- Set the tone with a fun-loving playlist. Pick something that creates a tasting room atmosphere to get your guests in the mood to take down a few brewed beverages.
6 tips on how to host a beer tasting party
You’ve got your supplies, and your guests are on their way — now, how do you make this the best beer tasting party ever? We’ve compiled some tips to wow your guests and create an incredible beer tasting journey.
1. Keep the beer at the right temperature
Serving your beer at the proper temperature takes a bit of forethought. You want each brew to taste its best, and temperature can impact flavor. As a general guideline, lighter beer with lower alcohol by volume (ABV) should be served cold, while darker, stronger brews will taste best at room temperature. All beer should be served between 35-60°F.
Your snacks and appetizers should be served at the right temperature, too. Make sure you’re not leaving a cheese plate out in the sun or serving warm fruit.
2. Pour like a pro
Beer is a sensitive drink; along with temperature, the pouring method can significantly affect the taste. If there’s too much foam from the carbonation being released, you won’t be able to grasp the full flavor. Too little, and the beer may cause you to feel bloated because that carbonation has to go somewhere.
Pour at a 45-degree angle until the glass is half full, then pour the rest straight into the center. Aim for the perfect foam zone: 0.5 to 1 inch of foam on top.
3. Drink up, buttercup
Take a moment to admire your beer and savor its color, aroma, and clarity before bringing it to your lips. Enjoy your first sip, but be aware that how you sip your beer will affect the taste. Don’t chug, but “chew” the beer instead. Make a chewing motion with your mouth before swallowing. It’ll help you taste the full range of flavors, especially if the beer has subtle, more citrusy hints.
4. Jot down your notes (or don’t)
Want to know which beer tastes the best? Fans of craft beer may want to voice and share their opinions. Have your guests write down their tasting notes or rank the favorites as a group. This note-taking doesn’t need to be complicated; pencils and paper will do. But don’t make note-taking mandatory — that might ruin the fun for the friends who just want to mingle and make memories.
5. Stick to your beer tasting order
This may be the most important tip: stick to your tasting order. The idea of your party revolves around tasting and savoring various beer styles — and drinking a porter before a pilsner can throw off your palate entirely.
For the best, tastiest results, aim to sip your lighter beer at the beginning and work your way toward robust flavors at the end.
6. Wash glassware between tastings
Having a clean glass ensures that no other flavors compromise your next tasting. If you don’t rinse your glassware, the aromas and styles could mix, and you won’t taste the pure flavors. This is also a great time to grab a pretzel or cracker to cleanse your palate and prepare for the next sip of beer.
6 of the best beers for an at-home beer tasting party
We weren’t going to leave you empty-handed. We said to choose from robust flavors and easy-drinking options to make sure everyone at your party can enjoy the menu, so here’s a list of some of the best beers you can get to create a delicious sampling of beer at your event. All these options come from craft breweries around North America.
1. Abita Purple Haze
Abita Purple Haze is an American-style wheat beer that uses pilsner and wheat malts to procure a lighter flavor. The brewers dressed this beer up with some fresh raspberries, giving it a fruity flavor and slightly purple hue. This semi-sweet brew comes from Abita Brewing Company in Covington, Louisiana.
Shop now: Abita
2. Blue Moon Belgian White
Blue Moon’s Belgian White satisfies anyone craving a citrus punch — or craving a beer that drinks like a juice. This hazy pale ale is a slice of heaven with a bright yellow-orange color and light wheat notes. This is a great beer from Denver, Colorado, to include at the beginning of your tasting.
Shop now: Blue Moon
3. Collective Arts Guava Gose
For those who love fruity and sour beer, Collective Arts Guava Gose is a masterpiece. Your pour will give off smells of a tropical vacation, and the flavors will burst in your mouth. It’s a superb summer beer, hailing from Collective Arts Brewing in Ontario, Canada.
Shop now: Collective Arts
4. Maplewood Brewery Son of Juice IPA
People get deterred when they see IPA on a beer label because they think it’ll be too hoppy. But that’s not the case for all IPAs. If you see West Coast IPA or just plain old IPA, it’ll likely have a higher rating of international bitterness units (IBUs). That said, if you opt for a New England-style (NE) IPA, your tastebuds will be pleasantly surprised by the citrus flavors, thanks to the hops. NEIPAs are synonymous with “hazy IPAs” that gain immense popularity during summer.
Chicago’s Maplewood Brewery has created Son of Juice, an exceptional NEIPA to add to your beer tasting menu. You’ll note its cloudy nature, intense aroma, and flavor that puts juice to shame.
Shop now: Maplewood Brewery
5. Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout
Here’s a stout to end your tasting on a delicious note. It’s a darker beer with robust flavors of dark chocolate, freshly-brewed coffee, and caramelized sugar — basically, a dessert beer. From Longmont, Colorado, Left Hand Brewing dubs this “America’s Stout,” and we encourage you to try it.
Shop now: Left Hand Brewing
6. Athletic Brewing Non-Alcoholic Beer
Your sober friends or designated drivers can join in on the fun, too. Athletic Brewing from Stratford, Connecticut, has created an array of delightful beers with less than 0.5% ABV. They have a couple of IPAs, a stout, and some easy-drinking golden ales. Add one of these beers to your menu and see how the taste compares. You might even try to make your guests guess which beer is the non-alcoholic one.
Shop now: Athletic Brewing
To equip yourself for the best beer tasting event, make sure you have an excellent menu, all the right supplies, and a small guest list of folks who want to sample some of the best-tasting beers.
Need supplies for your party? Browse through Gopuff’s extensive selection of beer, order online, and have your goods delivered straight to your door.