Hosting a formal beer tasting or a five-course pairing party requires Martha Stewart-level planning and dropping a mint at the bottle shop. Here’s our simple, six-step solution for an interactive beer experience that’s easy for you and keeps your guests on their toes.
1. Invite guests to bring two large-format bottles of beer (bombers, 750s, even growlers), and let them know that anything goes: Cantillon? Steel Reserve? It’s all up for grabs.
2. As your guests arrive, hand each one a tasting cup and three colored stickers. Designate the colors; i.e., blue means best, silver means second-best, red means worst.
3. Brown-bag the beers, number them, and display them where you want your guests to mingle. Set up a separate table for light bites like cheese and veggies.
4. Challenge everyone to taste the beers and put stickers on the bottles they like best, second- best and least. Sit back and relax as your guests walk around and mingle, without much effort on your part.
5. Toward the end of the night, gather the crowd and reveal the beers. If there are a few sips left, pass them around to share. Announce the winning beer (the bottle with the most “best” stickers), the runner-up and the loser.
6. Have fun, wallet-friendly prizes on hand (think bottle openers, growlers or brewery gift cards) for guests who brought the top vote-getters—and a booby prize, too!
Follow up! Make a list of your shindig’s top 10 beers and email it to your guests the next day so they know what to pick up the next time they’re beer shopping.