From football to fires with friends, everything about fall screams, "It's beer season!" Sure, it's simple to add a hoppy element to any party if you just want to grab a case of pop tops and put them on ice, but at OTR, you know we love to take things a step further. With a little planning and some strategic shopping, a beer tasting is a great addition to any fall get-together. Interactive and educational, much like the "man parties" we recently covered, parties with a beer tasting element allow your guests to leave with a little knowledge they didn't have before. Here are our favorite ways to incorporate a tasting into any party, big or small.
Pick a theme for your brew. An easy, non-intimidating way to tie a tasting into your event is to choose a type of beer and stick to it, teaching your guests to differentiate between different brewery's takes on the same flavors. For fall, a pumpkin theme isn't only fitting, it's a must. We like to serve beers almost like you would food courses, bringing out ice buckets filled with a different bottled ale every 30-40 minutes. Even if a bucket isn't fully empty, still swap it out for a fresh one with a new batch of brews on schedule. This allows guests to set their own drinking pace and avoids you having to heavily monitor the drink status. Use a chalk board placed next to the buckets telling guests what they can expect to taste. This method is bests for larger parties of 20+. Need some tips on pumpkin ales? Check out this great website.
Take flight. Beer flights are best for smaller groups, so parties where fewer than 20 guests are expected. Just before guests arrive, pour three four ounce pours (one bottle split three ways) for each guest and arrange at a family-style table. Plan to sit at the head of the table and talk guests through each brew. This extends the experience, making it a real part of the event. Serve up simple snacks that guests only need one hand to grab and plan to give guests a 15-20 minute break between the tasting and dinner.
Be stationary. A simple, yet impressive way to add a tasting element is to prep stations with printed cards guests can grab and take with them. Sticking with the four ounce pours (one bottle split three ways), prepare tasting stations each featuring a different beer. The tasting card should display the name of the beer, ABV, IBU (international bitterness unit) for hoppy beers, and any other important tasting notes. Hint: rope in the manager of your local beer shop to give you some great tidbits to add.
A blind date. Guests love to get involved, so prep them ahead of time, asking them to bring a 6-pack of their favorite brew. Either have guests blind taste and rate, OR have them taste and guess which brew they think it is. The guest with the most correct guesses wins! For a fun twist, add an on-theme prize, like $100 to your favorite brew house. In SF? We suggest The Brick Yard!
Looking for snack ideas? Palate cleansers are a must between sips of different brews, so stock up on bowls of popcorn, buttery crackers, and salty chips. Feeling fancy? Pickled ginger is seen as one of the better palate cleansers out there! Whatever you choose, just remember, this doesn't have to be intimidating. Chalkboards and printed cards are a great way to avoid speaking in front of a group, so lean on those crutches if the idea of public speaking makes you queasy.
Have a blast--just remember to snap a pic and tag us @OTREvents on Instagram so we can see how you harnessed those hops!
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