After talking nonstop about our first annual beer tasting event, I promised I’d be back to teach you how to throw your own – today’s the day pals! If you love craft beer, hanging with friends, event planning, snacks and songs, this post is for you. If you’re just here for pretty pictures of beer, this post is ALSO for you. And if you’re procrastinating doing actual work and just looking for something to read? I’ll try my hardest to entertain you too ; ) So here we go: How to host a craft beer tasting 101!
Here’s everything you’ll need to host a craft beer tasting:
- Beer! Duh. I recommend that each person bring 1 six pack to share. I was the “keeper of the beer” for our tasting which meant everyone texted me their selection so we didn’t have any repeats. It also meant that my tasting wouldn’t truly be “blind” but that was okay with me : )
- A normal sized bottle of beer will provide 4 tasting pours. If you have more than 20 people, you may want to increase quantities to a 12 pack per person (or provide smaller pours)
- Tasting sized glasses – This is actually important. You won’t want big glasses or you’ll miss out on the “head” from the pour and the closer aroma of the beer itself before you drink. We used plastic like these or these but you could also go glass for relatively cheap!
- Tasting note cards and pens. I created our own and kept them fairly simple – Here’s a free printable if you’d like to use a generic version of my design!
- Koozies or brown paper bags – for blind tasting.
- Pitchers of cold water
- Music and plenty of snacks
Here’s how you’ll set everything up:
- Pick a spot to hold your tasting. I recommend a long table with room to taste AND take notes.
- Set each spot with an empty glass, notecard and pen.
- Place a cooler nearby filled with enough beer (for 8 people, 2 of each bottle)
- Fill water pitchers and place a few on the table.
- Set up snacks nearby and start your playlist!
- Place koozie or bag on first beer without showing the crowd.
- Pour a small amount into each glass (again, 1 bottle should yield 4 pours)
- You will taste in a specific order – usually lowest to highest ABV. This also tends to be lighter beers first leading into darker, hoppier and more flavorful brews towards the end!
- Instruct tasters to begin by first smelling, then sipping the brew
- Discuss! – color, pour, head, aroma, initial flavor, after-taste, hops
- Reveal the brewery, beer name and style; encourage more discussion and rating
- Repeat for each beer!
- Take photos of beers you enjoy to remember and purchase later
- After every (or every other) pour, rinse glass with cold water and DRINK it! Hydrate!
- You can ask each guest to pre-provide a song or snack to correspond with their beer
- For example, my dad played the Mission Impossible theme song to go along with his choice, Undercover Investigation Shutdown by Lagunitas.
- Break midway through if you have 8 or more beers to ensure hydrating and snacks.
- Take a photo of your notes and the highest rated beer to share with everyone.
- Make sure everyone has a ride home! This isn’t a kegger but some beers will have high ABV ; )
- Recommend that everyone choose something they’ve never had or heard of – this is an awesome opportunity to branch out and try something new!
- Manage to somehow have leftovers? Create mixed 6-packs to send home with everyone, or just with the person who brought the “winning” beer.
Ready to host a craft beer tasting of your own? This is an awesome afternoon activity for a summer weekend – have food ready to grill and you can transition right into a barbecue when you finish up! Let me know if you need any recommendations – I’ve got plenty of favorites to share and I can’t wait to hear what you pick to taste. Cheers!