We’ve all heard of wine tasting evenings, but how about hosting a beer tasting party?
Denis da Silva, SAB Trade Brewer at Newlands Brewery in Cape Town, believes that beer is as versatile as its seemingly more sophisticated alcoholic friend, wine. Beer has many different characteristics thanks to its diverse ingredients, like malted barley varieties, yeast strains and hops. ‘Beer is good, food is good, but nothing beats good food with good beer,’ says da Silva.
Here’s how to get started!
1. Clever Catering
The number of guests determines the quantities you need for catering – in this case, the number of beers you need to purchase, as well as the tasty bites to accompany them. Da Silva suggests that each person in attendence should have at least three cans available to them.
2. Best Brews
Here are Da Silva’s flavour and beer style suggestions!:
CRISP: All round lightness, less body with a sharp crispness and gentle lingering bitterness, like Castle LITE.
HOP: Hop bitterness like a Hansa Pilsner with its unique Saaz hop or the Jacob’s Pale Ale from Newlands Spring Brewing Company with earthy and peppery notes.
MALT: Clean, somewhat dry, somewhat bitter, never sweet lager like Castle Lager or some roasted, caramel, toffee notes from Jacobs Pale Ale.
ROAST: Rich and smooth with roasted full mouthfeel, like Castle Milk Stout or some chocolate and coca notes from Choc Stout.
FRUITY: Low bitterness with a distinctive fruity aroma and taste, like The Newlands Spring Co – Passionate Blond with its distinctive passion fruit aroma or Carver’s Weiss & Mountain Weiss with a zesty banana aroma with hints of clove and vanilla.
FLAVOURED: There is a variety to select from – the Flying Fish range of low bitterness fruit flavoured beers (orange, lemon and apple), Castle LITE Lime or the most recently-launched Liberado, a tequila flavoured beer with fresh lemon notes.
3. Keep it Chilled
Make sure you serve your beers icy cold to optimise the tasting experience. Keep them in the fridge or an ice bucket until they are ready to be sipped on.
4. Pace your Palate
In between beers, it is recommended to cleanse your palate with a glass of water. This will make the most of each beer and keep your friends with lower tolerances in good nick.
5. Classy Glass
The best part of a beer tasting (besides the beer, of course) is you are not limited to serving your beers in standard beer glassware. Mix things up with a variety of glassware styles with each beer variety. Glasses with a wide bowl and narrow mouth help ‘trap’ the beer’s aromas in the glass, making for a better tasting experience. Don’t worry if you don’t have a vast selection of glasses – all that really matters is that they are clean with no soapy residues as this will kill your foam. It is best to use smaller glassware in a beer tasting as you will only be pouring the beer into a third of the glass. Remember, it’s only a taster!
6. Good Eats
If you are only providing snacks, then make sure you have an assortment of low flavoured foods, so as to not compromise your palate, such as unsalted pretzels or crackers and crudité. If you really want to fancy things up a bit, host your beer tasting with a food pairing! Take your time serving each dish because a beer and food pairing is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
7. Festive Fun
Have fun setting up the decor for your beer tasting party! Pick a theme or encourage people to dress up. You can label ice buckets with the various beers you will be tasting and have beer tasting key notes printed, explaining the beers you will be serving. You can even go as far as printing beer score sheets – allowing guests to score the beers for themselves!
8. Beer Play
If you are into some good old fashioned party games, you could include a blind tasting in the evening’s proceedings. Away from eyeshot, pour a beer of your choice into a jug and then serve to it to your guests and have them guess which beer it is. Have a prize for the correct guess – a six pack of their favourite beer or dinner on you!
9. Be Safe!
Drink responsibly! Ensure everyone has booked a driving service to get them safely home.
Encourage discussions among your guests so they are having fun while learning about the tastes of beer.