The key to throwing a brew tasting party is inviting the right people. People who will provide interesting brews, beers, ales, meads, and wines to sample, and people who will truly appreciate such brews! Having different levels of beverages to taste on hand is a good idea, as well as acquiring a small keg of quality ale as a back line. Probably amongst the best of ideas is to invite home brewers to your beer tasting party! Any home brewer is likely to bring some of their one-of-a-kind home brew to spice things up.
The best beer tastings I have been to have been those at which at least three home brewers were present. The variety in their brews and specialty styles of beer was delightful to taste and contrast with each other. It is at these beer tastings that I first tried spruce ale (courtesy of Oz Haus Breweries), cyser (an apple cider + mead combination), and the delectable concoction know as “Pulque Yarrow”, an Agave-nectar-based-brew with an added punch of inebriation lent by the yarrow. The closest most would come to the taste of this wonderful beverage would probably be a white wine cooler consisting of a light white wine of fine quality and a dash of ginger ale. That still is a far cry from the refreshing light taste of the “Pulque Yarrow” invented by my close comrade “Dead” Ben “Carleton” of the Plague Water Brewing Company.
But it was at the Mead tasting party of the Reverend Jim of the Church of the Great Green Frog that I first was introduced to the variety of flavors and overtones offered by a properly aged brew. For drinks of high alcohol content, i.e. fine wines, whisky, and bourbon, it is commonly known that they increase in value and flavor throughout the years. But, also, brews such as mead and barley wine easily fall into this category.
When you decide to throw a brew tasting party, forethought will pay off in this regard when you bring our a one year, two year, three year or older mead or barley wine. If you are not a home brewer yourself, you need not fear: these days, barleywines are available in the finer liquor stores of most cities, and even meads. When buying meads, though, you should be wary of mislabeled bottles of merely honey sweetened grape wine – often labeled “Meade” or “Honey Wine”. See my article “A Guide to Mead” for further information.
One aspect of how to throw a brew tasting party that is very important, especially for larger parties, is (you guessed it!) the KEGERATOR. Honestly, if you don’t have one, you should make friends with someone who does and throw the brew tasting party at their house. It isn’t difficult to build your own kegerator, though. Many kits are available online for transforming an old refrigerator into a home draft beer system. These kits come in a variety of styles and functions, from the basic to the deluxe, for both full sized refrigeration units as well as half sized and even freezers. In either case, you should be prepared to have lots of room in the kitchen refrigerator for chilling the specialty brews that are sure to show up at your brew tasting party.
If you are going to throw a brew tasting party outside, whether in the back yard, the park, or the graveyard, you will most likely wish to have a beer cooler in place of the keg dispenser. There are kits for converting an ordinary camping cooler into kegerators as well. These kits will help you to have your brew tasting party out in the great outdoors, and if properly disguised, will avoid any unpleasant hassles from authorities without much to occupy their time. See our article Disguising a Mobile Beer Draft System for more information on this aspect of public drinking.
In summary, to successfully throw a brew tasting party, follow the following guide lines:
1.Invite home brewers.
2.Have a back line of beer.
3.Have a special reserve or aged brew available for tasting.
If you follows these guidelines, it is incredibly likely that your brew tasting party will indeed be a success. Being a home brew hobbyist yourself will also give you the inside scoop on what new and interesting brews are going around in the home brew and micro brew circles.