Posted on January 18th, 2010
A beer tasting is a simple and fun way to enjoy beer with friends. It can be a great way to introduce someone to the world of craft beer or to try some new brews with experienced beer drinkers. All you need is some beer and some friends. Here are the five steps to host the best beer tasting you’ve ever had:
1. Choose the Right Beers
A haphazard selection of beers for your tasting could result in clashing flavors that can obscure the way some beers taste. To avoid this try to pick a theme for your beer tasting that will showcase common flavors and brewing approaches, allowing you to pick up on the subtler aspects of a beer or beer style. Sticking to one style such as IPAs or one region, such a Belgium, is an easy way to do this.
2. Serve at the Right Temperature
Beer ads in America would have you believe that beer should be served at or right above freezing. Don’t listen to such advice, it’s just plain wrong. Serving beer that cold keeps you from actually tasting the beer. The coldness numbs your tongue and mutes the flavor in the beer. Instead, let your beer sit on the counter for a few minutes after you take it out of the fridge. Ideally you want beer to be at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s served. The more alcoholic it is, the warmer it should be. Check out our article on proper beer temperature for more detailed information on the topic.
3. Choose the Right Glasses
Proper glassware is extremely important for getting the most out of a beer. Different styles taste best with different glassware. Check out our article on glassware for more details. Of course if you having a large tasting party and don’t have enough glassware to go around, feel free to make due with what you have.
4. Cleanse the Pallet
It’s a good idea to have some water on hand to clean your mouth and tongue between beers. You don’t want to have the lingering taste of one beer to affect how another tastes. Along the same lines you should try to order your beers from lightest to strongest in flavor. Try the beers with lighter, more delicate flavors such as pilsners and wits earlier on, so a more intense beer like a barleywine doesn’t wear out your taste buds. Be sure not to make the mistake of confusing color for flavor. Darker beers are not always stronger than lighter beers. If you’re planning on tasting several beers of the same style, organize them by alcohol strength. Check the label for style and alcoholic content information.
5. Enjoy and Discuss
Taste each beer properly, noting the color, aroma, mouth feel and taste. Check out our 5 Step Guide To Tasting Beer for more information. Once you’ve tried the beer discuss with your friends what you thought of each one and how it compares to others in the tasting. A good way to start a discussion is by naming the foods and flavors a beer reminds you of. Coffee, chocolate and fruit are all commonly found in the flavor of beer. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have much experience with craft beer. If you don’t like the way a beer tastes, don’t let a ‘beer snob’ tell you you’re wrong. Taste is a matter of opinion, so voice yours.