Change up your typical wine tasting party by introducing new and local brews to friends and family. Pick a theme, like IPAs or blondes, and ask guests to bring their favorites or simply pick up yours from Main & Vine.
Group interesting local beers into a horizontal flight, with three or more beers of the same style, to compare and contrast them. For example, if you were hosting an IPA tasting party, you might assemble a flight (one for each guest) of the following:
- 7 Seas Rude Parrot IPA
- Elysian Space Dust IPA
- Silver City St. Florian IPA
- Fremont Interurban IPA
How to Serve
Pour 3-5 ounces of each beer into tumblers, or, if you want to go a little more formal, small beer-tasting glasses – with accompanying tasting paddles, of course. Suggested serving temperatures may vary by brewery, but generally craft beers always taste better at around room temperature or slightly cooler, not refrigerated. Craft beers are based on beer styles that existed before refrigeration did, and thus much of their complexity doesn't present itself when chilled.
Tasting notes largely separate drinking beer from tasting beer. Consider the following attributes when recording your impressions:
- Appearance: Note the color of the beer and head. Note the shape and color of the foam. Tan, beige or brown?
- Aroma (or nose): Inhale deeply; taste the aroma on your tongue. Note the nuances of the hops, yeast and malt.
- Taste: Describe taste using food descriptors. Is the beer nutty with a burnt-caramel finish? Or perhaps you detect woodsy, herbal notes with hints of fruit?
- Mouthfeel: How does the beer feel on the palate? Light and fizzy or thick and smooth?
- Overall Impression: Rate the beer. Would you recommend it? Why or why not? What foods would each beer pair well with?
You want neutral, starchy bites between tastings. Pita chips, water crackers and baguette pieces work well here. An after-tasting dinner is customary, and it's an effective way to test your pairing acumen. If you're hosting, devise a menu that complements a few of the beers from the tasting. If you tasted lagers, go with something spicy (Indian food and lager pair beautifully). You can also create dishes that incorporate the beers. For example, if you tasted stout, try stout-braised short ribs followed by a chocolate dessert.