This blog was originally posted on February 1, 2017, and has been updated to reflect our inventory.
With the ever-increasing varieties of beer on the market, you may not want to buy a 6-pack of every new beer that catches your eye. Aside from the expense of buying so many six packs, you don’t want to end up with an abundance of beer that you may not enjoy. Instead of buying a bunch of new beer in bulk, try throwing a craft beer tasting party at home. Beer tasting parties are a great way to gather your friends and broaden your beer horizons. Here are our recommendations for throwing a great craft beer tasting party.
Before you start getting a smorgasbord of beer, you should know what you want to get out of this tasting. Are you looking to try a wide range of ales and lagers? Are you just looking for a sampling of one particular type of flavor? Here are a few ideas for beer tasting “themes”:
- Region-specific beers (New England, Midwest, Pacific Northwest)
- Country-specific beers (Belgium, Germany, Ireland)
- Porters vs. Stouts
- Hefeweizen vs. Witbier
- Pumpkin beer. Our recommendations: Southern Tier Imperial Pumking and Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin.
- Sampling the lineup of one brand. There are plenty of new breweries popping up every year. Or, maybe you want to try multiple beers from a brand you’ve never tasted before. Our ‘Specials’ page has ‘all varieties’ of several different beer on sale each month — take your pick!
- Hard ciders. Our recommendations: Citizen Cider, Stormalong Cider, and Prospect Ciderworks.
How Much Beer?
Once you’ve figured out the theme of your beer tasting party, you have to figure out how much beer to purchase. While there isn’t a hard and fast rule, consider first how many different beers you want to try. Generally, we recommend sampling between 4-7 different beers in a given party. After all, you don’t want to bore your guests with too few beer samplings or overwhelm their taste buds with too large a variety. Be sure to have at least 2 full beers of each variety for each guest at your party.
Other Things You’ll Need
Comfortable party guests are happy party guests, so it’s important to put in the effort to ensure you’re properly hosting your guests. While beer is the main focus of the party, you’ll want the first beer to taste as unbiased as the last. Here are some things you should consider:
- Proper glassware: If you are sampling 5 different beers, be sure to serve them in 3 oz. or half-pint glasses to keep cost and incidence of inebriation low.
- Palate cleansers: Plain crackers, bread, or pretzels are great for absorbing beer and will clean any residual flavors between each beer.
- Water: Keep your guests hydrated!
- A comfortable setting: If you’re in a cramped room, nobody will enjoy their beer. Set up shop around a table so everyone can see each other and feel encouraged to talk.
- Pen and paper: This one is helpful for keeping it social. Have everyone write down their initial thoughts after the first taste. It’s an easy way to keep the discussion going since everyone can compare notes and record their unbiased first impressions.
- A fun attitude: At the end of the day (or party), you’ll want to make sure you have fun!
Where to Start?
If you’re not sure where to start, keep your audience in mind. If one of your attendees is notorious for hating IPAs, you should probably leave those out. Ultimately, not all of your guests will love each of the beers they sample, but a little consideration will go a long way in ensuring everyone enjoys the party.
Wachusett Wine & Spirits has an expansive (and ever growing!) craft beer and craft cider inventory that is sure to have everything you need to host an amazing craft beer tasting party. Stop by, say hi, and let us know what you’re looking for! (Pro tip: If you’re looking for a particularly rare craft beer and don’t see it on the shelf, just ask us. We’re known for keeping select rare brews in our private stocks!)