Your friends are coming over: so why not organise a beer tasting? You could always invite an expert over, but why bother when you can create your own? Here are some of our top tips for organising a hassle-free tasting session.
It’s hard to make choices- there are so many beers out there. Which beers should you go for? Make sure you choose a theme beforehand, as that’ll give you a good foundation. At Beerwulf, we’ve put together a package of twelve different styles of exclusively British beer.
You’ll find beers including the Peckham Pils from Brick Brewery, for example. This is a Pils, a light and supple beer to start off with. You could move on to a Thornbridge Am:Pm, followed by a Siren Calypso. This is a sour beer and will clean the palate. Later on you might enjoy the hoppy Bullfinch Wolf American Pale Ale. For the last rounds, try two different coffee minded beers. First the Alphabet Flat White, an interesting white stout. Finish with Common Grounds from Magic Rock. This is a coffee Porter, a dark beer with an intensive coffee flavour- a superb beer to end the night and maybe enjoy it a bit longer.
You can also choose six beers of the same style, in which you taste six different Tripels, for example. Learning to distinguish the different flavours within one style can be a highly instructive experience.
The beer tasting package is a godsend for amateurs as well as more experienced beer lovers and gives a good overview of the British beer scene.
You’ve got the beers ready, but which order should you be tasting them in? The two most important factors to consider are as follows:
As a general rule, you arrange the beers from lowest to highest alcohol percentage. Now look closely at the flavour intensity. It might be that a beer with a lower percentage has an intensely strong flavour from the addition of herbs, for example. If a beer has a strong flavour intensity, move it up a spot.
For a tasting, you use a small 25 cl glass. There are special glasses you can buy for beer tastings, but ordinary small, tulip-shaped wine glasses would also do the trick.
If you’re going to try six beers, it’s ideal for each person to have six glasses. But with ten friends you’d need 60 glasses and that takes up a lot of cupboard space. Providing three glasses for each person already cuts this in half. Have a short break after three beers for everyone to rinse out their glasses for the second half.
When tasting beer with a group, you’ll want something to eat. First of all, it’s important to neutralise your palette after tasting beer. Water helps, but a piece of white baguette or a cracker (without added flavouring) is better. This ensures you’ll be ready for your next round.
It’s also nice to serve some bites during a tasting. There are countless websites and books with tips on which snacks and dishes pair well with a certain beer, so it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple piece of banana works wonders with a Tripel Karmeliet, and a piece of herring goes fantastically with an Orval. Dark chocolate often goes well with heavy, dark beers, such as a Rochefort 10.
Beer tasting should mostly be about fun. But it’s also good to learn something from the experience. Beerwulf has developed a special tasting form that you can use during your tasting session. Sample and discuss what you see, smell and taste. Everyone has their own associations, which is what makes it so enjoyable. By tasting mindfully, you learn to recognise flavours.
Gathering background information on the type of beer and the brewery makes for an especially instructive session. If each person looks up the information and presents it while the beer is being served, you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of knowledge in just one evening.
Keep on tasting, there’s so much to discover!