Wednesday, April 8, 2009

celebrate this: beer tasting party -- drinks

For the beer tasting party, the drinks are obviously the most important part of the entire evening! you want to make sure that your supply is fresh, broad and sufficient. If this is your first tasting or your guests are a little finicky, it's best to stock some easy drinking beers that aren't too wild. Try the first 5 or so on the list for the timid beer taster. If your guests are adventuresome, don't be afraid to purchase beers you've never tried before; be creative and dig deep for some hidden gems at your local beer or liquor store. Check out selections from the entire list here for your tasting party.

  • Light lager [try Coors Light, Stella Legere, Steelback Light, Amstel Light]

  • Lager [try Amsterdam Natural Blonde, Mill St. Organic, Kirin Ichiban, Zywiec, Sapporo]

  • Pilsener [try Steam Whistle, Krombacher, Holsten, Labatt Blue, Warsteiner, Jupiler]

  • Dark lager [try Waterloo Dark, King Brewery Dark Lager, Heritage Traditional Dark]

  • Canadian ale [try Kawartha Lakes Raspberry Wheat Ale, Molson Export, C'est What? Homegrown Hemp Ale]

  • Amber ale [try Robert Simpson Confederation Amber Ale, Fat Tire Amber Ale, Alexander Keith's Red Amber Ale]

  • Dark ale [try Wellington County Dark Ale, Sleeman Original Dark, Smithwick's]

  • Stout or Porter [try Murphy's Irish Stout, Mill St. Coffee Porter, Sleeman Fine Porter, Beamish stout]

  • Trappist style strong beer or a Bock [try Faxe Festbock, Westmalle Tripel, Aventinus Ice Bock]

  • Fruit beer[try Früli, Bell's Cherry Stout, Unibroue Éphémère]

  • The Set-up
    How much beer should you buy? A simple rule is to pour three ounce samples for your guests. This means from each standard size bottle, you will get four samples.If you can buy beers individually, purchase this way, or buy each beer in a six-pack. An idea may be to let your guests take a bottle of their favourite home.

    Serve your samples in small clear cups. The cups must be clear to fully experience the colour of each sample and note it on your beer score sheet [remember each guest should receive these score sheets in their sampling bag]. Create a backgrounder sheet for each beer you are serving and let your guests appreciate the history of each sample. If you are setting up your room in tasting stations, set the backgrounder sheet at each station.

    Take the beer out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before the tasting starts. If beer is too cold, it will numb your tastebuds to the intricacies of the flavour and aroma.

    Ensure that you have water and water glasses for your guests to cleanse their palate between tastings. The goal is to appreciate each individual flavour without skewing the results.

    The Tasting
    When you are ready to start your tasting, set out the cups and introduce the beer to your guests. Pour directly into the bottom of the cup and fill the cup halfway. Ensure there is ample foam [head] in the cup. Follow your beer score sheet and make your observations. Try using the following guidelines to help your guests make informed observations.
    • Look at the beer and observe its colour.
      Colour will give good indication of what kind of malts have been used and some of the flavours and aromas you should expect.

    • Smell the beer.
      The secret here is to get your nose to the back of the glass or cup. This will bring out all the aromas. If you are having trouble with aromas, swirl the beer a little to generate some foam and try again. Start to think about what kind of aromas you are picking up.

    • Taste the beer.
      The first sip should be a slow process – allow it to rest on your tongue and envelop your mouth. Once you’ve swallowed, think about what flavours you found and how did it feel in your mouth.

    • Take a second taste.
      The first sip did a good job of preparing your mouth but the second sip should alloy you to notice some softer, more intricate flavours.

    • Share your thoughts and comments with your guests and ask them for their thoughts.
      This is the important part. We all have different palates and our experiences may be similar but never identical.

    If you are serving food along with your beer, try the foods after you have made your initial observations. See how the flavours interact and note how the food may bring out new flavours in the beer and vice versa. Then, drink about half a cup of water and begin your next sample!

    I hope you enjoy your beer tasting!


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