Tips for hosting a beer tasting party
Sure, you've heard of wine tastings & pairing parties with fancy cheese and sausage, but what about all those beer lovers who'd rather drink an artisan brew than fermented grapes? Throw them a beer tasting party, of course!
Beer tasting parties are sweeping the party scene because they offer an alternative to the sometimes stuffy wine scene. So grab your favorite beer drinking friends and some trendy craft brews and host a fun tasting party with these easy tips.
Hosting a beer tasting party is like hosting any party -- you need fun, festive decor, possible games lined up and a great selection of one-of-a-kind drinks and snacks. This type of party is perfect for birthdays, Oktoberfests or even bachelor parties!
How to prep
Much like hosting a wine and cheese party, you want to make sure you know the exact number of RSVPs so you have enough food and drink to go around. To ensure a more accurate count, send out fun beer-themed invitations via snail mail at least four weeks prior to the party or send a fun Evite at least two weeks out.
Unlike more formal wine parties, you don't need fancy stemware or plates. Many beer parties just have rows of bottled beer and guests drink right from the bottle. However, if you'd prefer a classier vibe, stock up on plastic or glass beer steins you can place near the bottles.
In addition to head count and glasses, you also want to ensure your party is festively decorated! Many beer tasting parties, like this one, use fun lawn signs, tasting pads and beer-themed pencils to tie in the theme. If you're crafty, check out this DIY tutorial for a fun beer flower arrangement, which will add flair to a ho-hum bar or these five projects using just beer caps. If you'd prefer someone else did the legwork, check out Etsy for a great selection of fun, homemade and vintage beer-themed party decor.
They key to a great beer party is to keep the food and drink as simple as possible. No need for fancy or stinky cheeses, roasts or desserts. Instead, load up on appetizers, bite-size munchies like chips and nuts, and, of course, a great selection of beers. Although you won't need one type of beer for each person, you want to ensure you have just enough so that people don't feel left out of trying one particular kind.
For a party of 12:
- At least 8 light beers, like an India pale ale or Sierra Nevada
- At least 8 wheat beers, like Blue Moon or Shocktop
- At least 6 amber ales, like Fat Tire
- At least 6 stout beers, like Guinness
- At least 4 - 6 porters, like Bell's
- At least 8 other types of craft local brews (check your area for local breweries)
You can really have fun with how you set up your party. If you have a bar in your home, your setup is easy! Simply place the different kinds of beer in buckets with labels (one that says porters or pale ales) so guests know which is which. Also, place a small bowl around each bucket that guests can place their beer caps in. Place a tasting pad near each bucket with a pencil so that guests can rate which beer they liked and which they didn't. Make sure to place snacks in a few different areas of the room so that one table doesn't empty out while others sit. If you're going to feature sliders or wings, place them on a hot plate so they stay warm. In addition, place plenty of small appetizer plates and napkins around the room so guests don't have to hold their beer with messy hands.
If you don't have a bar, simply set up the area where you'd like to host the tasting like a small pub. Set up one longer table (like a dining room table) with the beer buckets. Place snacks on smaller cocktail tables, coffee or end tables. If you're hosting your party outdoors, be sure to have plenty of ice ready so the beers don't get warm.
Clever party ideas
Add a little bit of creativity to your party by hosting a few contests, games or crafts while your guests taste the beers. Here are some great ways to spice up a party:
- Do a blind tasting. Place all your beers in brown paper bags and have guests try to guess what kind of beer they are tasting. Offer a prize, like a six-pack of their favorite brew or a dinner coupon, to the person who gets the most right.
- Make your own beer coaster. Have your guests make their own bottle cap coaster or magnet using their favorite brews. It's a great party favor to take home.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Just remember to have designated drivers for each guest and regulate the party so it doesn't turn into a fraternity bash!