How to Host a Beer Tasting Party

If you’ve been keeping up here at The Everygirl, you know all about our guide to craft beer. Now that you’ve read the ins-and-outs of what makes beer a craft, you may want to show off your skills and throw a beer tasting party for your friends. So we’ve got you covered from choosing your beer selection, to how to properly taste your beer, and what to eat.

Why Host a Beer Tasting Party?

By hosting a beer tasting party, not only will you educate yourself on the complex flavors that make up a craft beer, but you’ll also give your guests the opportunity to get to know craft beer too.

Hosting a craft beer tasting is also a great way to start a new tradition with your best pals—instead of bringing a bottle of wine to your next get together, bring a bottle or pack of craft beers. Also, when hosting a beer tasting party, shop local! Pick up craft beers from your local microbreweries, or from a brewery in your state.

How to Host a Beer Tasting Party

You certainly don’t have to be an expert on beer to host a party, so don’t let that intimidate you. However, it is a good idea to do some background research on which brews you want to feature at your party.

  • Choosing a beer selection: First, you’ll want to think about your audience—this will determine how strong to go with your beer selection. Depending on how adventurous your guests are, pick a variety of milder beers to stronger ones. Also, picking a theme for your tasting party makes choosing the beer selection a lot easier, especially if you’re a beginner. For example, if the tasting is pumpkin themed, feature a variety of pumpkin flavored beers ranging in alcohol content. Or try creating a spread of brews from your local craft beer microbrewery.
  • Glassware: It’s suggested to use the appropriate glassware that pairs well with each beer. However, if you don’t have the appropriate glassware handy for your tasting (or you’re serving many people) a stemless wine glass will do just fine. (I personally love the selection of beer/tasting glassware sold at Crate & Barrel.)
  • Serving beer: Beer should be served cold, so keep them in the fridge until ready for tasting.
  • Encourage discussion:  This can be a fun experience for you and your guests! Encourage a discussion with your guests after tasting each beer—reflect on how the beer feels while drinking it and what flavors are pronounced.

Why Pour Matters

The way you pour beer is very important and can affect the way your beer’s head foam forms:

  • Use a clean glass—be sure to rinse out eat glass thoroughly because the previous beer may affect the new beer’s flavor or head foam formation.
  • Hold your glass at a 45-degree angle when pouring the beer.
  • At the halfway point of the pour, bring your glass at a 90 degree angle and continue to pour the beer in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head.

During the Tasting

To truly appreciate the complexity of a good beer, there are ways to truly taste it.

1. Look at your beer and describe its color, head, and consistency.
2. Agitate or swirl your beer in the glass. Pay attention to the aromas and its consistency.
3. Smell your beer. Take two quick sniffs with your mouth closed, then open. Take two more sniffs with your mouth this time and reflect on your beer’s aroma.
4. Slowly taste the beer by taking a sip and letting the beer sit in your mouth. Note the beer’s body and overall taste, and breathe out during the tasting process. Try your beer again after it’s warmed up a little to note any taste or aroma differences.

Small Bites

No party would be complete without small bites for your guests to snack on while tasting the selection of beers. You’ll want to provide a light spread of food for your guests to eat in between beers—this will help cleanse their palette (and help keep them sober!).

Charcuterie and Cheese Spread

Arrange a spread of these ingredients on a platter for small bites:

  • Cold cut meats like salami or prosciutto
  • Cubes of cheese such as sharp cheddar, gouda or Swiss
  • Mixed nuts
  • Multigrain crackers with a spread of soft/creamy Brie cheese and fig jam

Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Dip

Pretzel Bites recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Beer Cheese Dip:
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 tablespoons corn starch
– 12 oz beer of choice
– 16 oz sharp cheddar block, cubed
– Chopped cooked bacon, optional

Instructions:
Over medium heat, add butter to a medium saucepan. Once melted, stir in the minced garlic cloves and sauté for about one minute. Whisk in cornstarch until texture is thick. Pour in the beer and half of the cheese; whisk together. Slowly add remaining cheese and mix well until smooth. Sprinkle bacon into the mixture and serve immediately or transfer to a small crockpot.

Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients:
– 4 to 5 pound pork shoulder
– 2 cups water
– ground black pepper
– salt
– 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
– 2 cups original barbecue sauce

Instructions: 
Rinse pork shoulder and pat dry. Add it to the slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add water and liquid smoke, then turn on medium heat setting for about 7 hours. (I recommend doing this the morning of the party.)

After pork has cooked, removed shoulder from the cooker and discard remaining water. Shred the pork shoulder with two forks in a large bowl and add barbecue sauce. Add mixture back into the slow cooker and reduce heat to low. Serve with hamburger buns.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing

For the cupcakes:
– 2 cups sugar
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup buttermilk
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 sticks of butter
– 4 tablespoons (heaping) cocoa powder
– 1 cup Stout craft beer
For the ganache
– 8 ounces dark chocolate (chopped or in chip form)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 6 tablespoons corn syrup
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions:
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the cupcake pans with baking spray, or line them with cupcake liners. To make the batter, combine flour, sugar and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and stir to combine.

Add beer, allow mixture to bubble for a few seconds and then turn off the heat. Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture and stir a few times to cool the chocolate. Pour buttermilk mixture over the top and stir to combine all ingredients. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for five minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes. Allow them to continue cooling on a baking rack.

For the ganache: If you haven’t chopped your dark chocolate yet, do so now and store it in a bowl. Then, heat cream and corn syrup over medium heat. Add vanilla to the cream mixture, then pour cream mixture over the chopped chocolate in the bowl. Whisk together until melted, smooth and glossy. Dunk cupcakes in ganache. Allow to cool and set before serving.

Sources: Beer Advocate

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