Thursday, April 2, 2009

celebrate this: beer tasting party -- d├ęcor

Photo Credit: Shindigz

Depending on the theme of your tasting, you could come up with some interesting ideas for decoration. For example, if you are going with a domestic tasting, you could decorate with patriotic memorabilia, or if you are going for a beers from around the world theme, try setting up a station for each country/region with a little flag and a fact sheet about that country.

If your theme is simply 'beer drinking' [what better theme, really?] then there are a number of really cute decorations available like the beer mug lights pictured above available online at Set up the tasting area/room so that everyone can sit at the same table as they sample the brews. The beer lights can be strung around the ceiling, or I like to have a string of lights down the centre of the table amongst snack bowls, other decorations and tasting information. Cover the table with a table cloth [try a paper one so you can toss it in the recycling when you are finished, as it will likely be covered in crumbs, beer and sauces!]. I like black or orange because that is the colours of the invitation.

They also have beer mug candles! These would be great set down the centre of your tasting table if you end up stringing the lights around the doorway, chairs or ceiling.

Photo Credit:

Tie a few of these beer balloons to the chairs around your table or make/buy a balloon bouquet with one of these balloons and some orange and black plain balloons.

Party Favours

To help your guests with their tasting, provide a little bag full of tasting notes and tips. Just a plain paper bag will do with their name on it and a picture printed from your computer [try the same one you used for your invitation]. Inside the bag, put a sharpened pencil or a pen, some beer score sheets [depending on how many beers you are serving. if you are serving 8, put 8 printed sheets together and punch a hole in the top left corner and tie a black or orange ribbon through it to keep it together] and a list of terms you can use to describe the taste of the beers.

Try this list:
  • Amber: Describes medium intensity colored beers, ranging between pale and dark.
  • Balance: As with wine, describes how a good beer should exhibit a perfect balance of ingredients, bouquet, texture and aroma. Neither the malty sweetness nor the hoppy bitterness should dominate.
  • Bitterness: In beer comes from the hops. Generally the higher the hop content, the more bitter the beer.
  • Big beer: Refers to the richness or fullness of flavor derived from the malt. Big beers often have a high alcohol content.
  • Black: Describes non-transparent, deep, dark brown beers.
  • Body: As with wine, refers to the "mouthfeel," the impact and texture of the beer on the palate.
  • Bouquet: Another wine tasting term, describes the beer’s complex aromas.
  • Caramel: Refers to a buttery, toffee-flavored aftertaste.
  • Clean: Refers to pure, crisp, fresh tasting beer, free of sediment. The opposite of clean is cloying.
  • Clove: Refers to the flavor of wheat beers that often resembles the taste of cloves.
  • Crisp: Often associated with lagers and weiss beers, refers to a beer’s acidity and refreshing qualities.
  • Depth: Denotes both the beer's richness and its complexity of flavors.
  • Finish: Another wine tasting term, describes a beer’s aftertaste and your final impression of it.
  • Flat: Refers to characterless, dull, insipid, often insufficiently carbonated beer.
  • Flowery: Refers to the flowery aroma hops give beer.
  • Fresh: Refers to a beer free from oxidation. .
  • Full-bodied: Characterizes malty beers with complex flavors.
  • Haze: Caused by yeast or protein suspension, refers to a cloudy appearance and slightly musty taste.
  • The head: Is the frothy top layer that forms when beer is poured into a glass.
  • Hoppy: Refers to a beer with a high hop content.
  • Malty: Is the term for sweet, smoky, earthy flavored beers that have undertones of treacle, caramel or molasses.
  • Oxidized: Like wine, refers to the liquid's exposure to oxygen.
  • Smooth: Characterizes easy drinking beers with great mouthfeel.
  • Spicy: Refers to a distinctly hoppy flavor or the aroma of herbs.
  • Thin: Refers to a watery, one-dimensional beer that lacks body or character.
The next and final installation in this series will include some tips on what beer to serve to your guests and how to serve it to them!

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