How To Host A Beer Tasting

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

I don’t know about you, but I am in the middle of a major bout of cabin fever.  I am counting down the days to when the weather starts to warm up, so I can get out of my house without my face freezing off.

There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to this spring, but the big one is hosting a beer tasting on our deck.  Having never done this before, I did some research and came up with a lot of great ideas and tips for how to host a beer tasting.  In case you’re interested in hosting your own party, I thought I’d share some tips with you.

Beer tasting flight on a table from a top-down view

First, you need to choose a theme for your beer tasting.  Choosing a tasting theme makes the event more fun and is a conversation starter.  There are essentially four types of tasting themes: horizontal, vertical, blind and seasonal.

Horizontal: This is the easiest theme to arrange.  In this type you select several beers of different styles – usually selections that are distinct in color, taste and strength.  This gives the taster the opportunity to taste new styles and learn the diversity that the world of beer offers.

Vertical: This theme compares beers from one style, region or brewer.  This is ideal for exploring a particular style, such as pale lagers or stouts, or a region, such as Belgium or Germany (and may include beers styled according to a particular region though not necessarily brewed there).  Or, feature a vertical tasting from the selections of one great brewery.

Blind: This theme may have the most fun appeal, but is harder for the host to manage.  In a blind tasting, typically the tasters do not know the brand or style they are sampling.  As host of the tasting, you are the only one (at the outset) to know the identity of the beer samples.  You will have to pour in another room, hide the bottles, and keep careful track of which beer is in which glass (and in which order you serve them).  One tip is to use a magic marker to number the cups before you serve them.

Seasonal: This theme is popular for tastings and is a particular version of a vertical tasting.  It is a fun way to start off a holiday party and a nice ice breaker.  Winter holidays offer great Christmas ales.  Other beer holidays can include Oktoberfest (many German and U.S. craft brew “fest beers” are now readily accessible), and May Day (Mai Bock’s are traditional, but wheat beers are good for the spring, too).  You can also be creative – why not a Valentine’s Day tasting (cherry and raspberry lambics, along with chocolate flavored beers) or a Thanksgiving tasting with pumpkin and spiced beers?

Beer tasting flight on a paddle

Once you’ve chosen a theme, the next step is to set a date, time, location, and invite people. After you do all that, you’ll need to decide how many different beers to taste.  The theme you’ve chosen will help you decide what styles of beer to get and how many.  Once you’ve picked out your beers, do a little research on the beers you’ve selected in order to provide some guidance during your tasting.  

Choose what kind of party décor you’d like to have, and then assemble all the items that you need.  There are a lot of great ideas on Pinterest and blogs, so just do a quick Google search and you’ll be set.  I like this one and this one.

Once you have your party décor and supplies all set, you are ready to party!  Enjoy!

Beer Tasting

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