This past Saturday, I went to a wonderfully run beer-tasting party at a friend's house. His had a theme - imperial stouts and desserts - which is a fun idea.
One of the best things about being a craft beer fan is when you get a chance to try many different beers at one place at one time.
But it can be expensive to do so. Good beers can get a little pricey, and you really don't want to drink many beers all by yourself.
There are some solutions. Beer festivals are good, but what’s even better is a beer-tasting party.
A beer-tasting party is a great way to get a bunch of your beer-drinking friends together to try a bunch of really good beers.
This past Saturday, I went to a wonderfully run beer-tasting party at a friend's house. His had a theme - imperial stouts and desserts - which is a fun idea. People brought food (I made a Young's Double Chocolate Stout Bundt cake with homemade frosting) and a growler of Wormtown Brewery's Norm, a chocolate/coconut stout.
The idea was perfect. My friend is an avid beer collector. He gets beers from around the country through various methods, and there is nothing that goes better with a good, rich dessert than an imperial stout. And best of all, he enjoys sharing.
There are several things that go into running a good beer-tasting party. Here are some tips for hosting your own beer-tasting party.
First things first, figure out what you're going to do about beers. You should always have some beer that you plan on sharing with everyone. It's also a good idea to have some extra beers in the fridge that aren't part of the tasting, as well as non-alcholic options for those who don't want to drink all the beers that are part of a tasting, or for those who are a designated driver.
The next thing you should do is to decide if you want a theme. If not, everyone who comes to the party should be asked to bring one or two nice bottles of something they can find at a good liquor store. If you do it this way, then you'll have a variety of beers you can try at one time.
If you want a theme, such as the imperial stout tasting, then you should ask everyone to bring that particular style, although sometimes it’s good to provide beers of other styles as palate cleansers. If you're drinking a bunch of India pale ales, for example, they may start blending together. If you throw in a lambic or a porter in the middle, it can recharge your tastebuds.
The benefit of having a style-specific tasting party is that you can compare and contrast the differences in a beer. Just because the beers you’re tasting are the same style, there should still be a difference in all of the tastes.
Make sure there is food of some sort. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. At the tasting this weekend, we started with pizza, cheese and crackers and, of course, homemade desserts including cheesecake and a raspberry-white chocolate torte.
The proper serving glass is important. If you're drinking a lot of different beers, you’ll want tasting glasses or cups. You can find disposable ones at some of your better liquor and party supply stores. And, if you're a beer geek, most likely you'll have plenty of tasting glasses from the various festivals you have attended over the years.
The reason for this is to limit alcohol intake. If a group of 10 people are trying 20 or 30 different beers, you can't have them drinking full servings of each beer. Instead, start off with 2 ounces of each. This will give everyone enough so they can appreciate and taste the beer. Then the group can talk about the different flavors, aromas and overall tastes they get from the beer. If there is a particular beer a guest is really enjoying, they can then try more of it.
As a guest, you also have a responsibility to not be stupid. Know you're limits. Make sure to drink water and eat the food, and if you feel like you had enough, stop. There is no shame if you skip the last few beers.
If you feel like you can't do that, or you just don't want to, then arrange for a ride or plan for a cab. Nothing ruins a fun night like being pulled over and having to do field sobriety tests on the side of Rte. 9. Just be smart about it and everything will be good.
And, don’t forget to have fun. Beer is meant for good times with good people, and there is nothing like a beer-tasting party to bring both of those things together at once.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. Email email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut. Follow him on Twitter at @realbeernut or on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/beernutnorman.