by admin on October 15, 2013

By Blake Daniels

imagesMost of us are familiar with wine tastings. As soon as the weather warms up, travelers from all over the US flock to locations like Napa Valley or the Finger Lakes to visit the most beautiful vineyards and sample the best wines out there. What’s becoming increasingly popular among younger and often more urban crowds, however, involves an art quite different from vineyard hopping: beer tasting.

Beer tasting involves many of the same steps and techniques that wine tasting does, from the sniffing and swishing to the assessment of appearance and taste, and it seems to be popping up everywhere. With a quick search you’ll find beer-tasting events in nearly every city across the United States hosted by a variety of different organizations.

Breweries do it. Restaurants do it. And with a few simple steps, there’s no reason why you or I can’t either.

If you’re a homebrewer, hosting a beer tasting can be the perfect way to showcase your latest creations and let your friends sample your hard work. If you are simply a beer lover and connoisseur, a tasting can be a great reason to gather friends and do something a bit more interactive, while showing off your knowledge of ales and lagers.

indexStep 1: The first step to hosting your own tasting is, of course, the beer selection. It’s important to have enough of a variety without overwhelming your guests, and it’s also important to do a bit of research on which brews go best together. If you’re a homebrewer, make sure you have a couple of different recipes in the works so you have plenty of options for your guests to try when you host your tasting.

indexStep 2: Location, location, location. Where would you like your tasting to be? Location can have a huge impact on the kind of vibe your event will have. Hosting at your home makes the tasting warm and intimate, while renting out a room in a restaurant takes the level of sophistication and professionalism up a notch. It’s up to you, but make sure you give this step some thought before you start inviting your guests.

article-1353104-02A10175000005DC-727_634x483Step 3: Get the word out! Like the location, who you invite really depends on what kind of atmosphere you are aiming for. For a more relaxed evening, invite your closest friends. If you’re new in town, hosting your own tasting can be a great way to meet your neighbors and share this new or favorite hobby with them. Looking to get into beer-brewing professionally? See if inviting a local food critic or restaurateur is an option. Who knows, maybe they’d be willing to write something small about your brews.

093008beer-beltStep 4: Accessorize. This may be obvious, but your guests will need something to drink out of if they are going to be sampling different beers, and if you want to go the extra mile, consider purchasing glasses that your guests can take home with them as a kind of party favor. You can even personalize your pint glasses with your home-brewery name so your guests can remember your brews long after the tasting is over. Self-promotion not your thing? Check out some pint glasses that let your guests write their names in chalk on their own glasses. That way, they won’t get mixed up throughout the tasting with anyone else’s, and your guests will have something personalized to take home with them.

There are tons of other options out there that will allow you to be creative and that will make your tasting stand out. The only way to know what works best is to try a few things out, so use these tips as a starting point and don’t be afraid to venture out on your own.

Blake is a stay at home (brewing) dad and a lover of all things beer.

aaspit2Ed. So while this gets you to the staging, we all (Blake included) would like to see any tips and/or guidance as to HOW you do tastings. How do you clear your palate between beers? What do you do to prep, i.e. looking to have the right pH balance (?) in your mouth, so you can start with as clean a slate as possible in your tasting. What do the winos do?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carol October 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm

The best palate cleanser for beer is…. food! The best beer tastings I’ve attended were beer pairings, which matched beer with food. Beer is at its best this way. Our local beer fest (Electric City Brewfest) routinely serves free food, and it works. Because you have to DRINK the beer, not merely sip it, in order to judge it. It works because beer is so much lower in alcohol than wine–Sixteen 2-oz pours are the equivalent of only 2 pints, so it’s easy to go through a lot of beer tastes. And nlike wine, you don’t need to cleanse your palate — water doesn’t do the trick. I once considered a beer tasting which used a tasteless, watery drink as a palate cleanser — a can of Bud Light. (But I didn’t go through with it.)


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