Posted on April 8, 2013 by Lauren Christ
Trying to decide what to get the beer lover in your life? What birthday gift to give the man or woman who has everything?
I faced this dilemma recently, with my fiancé’s big 30th birthday looming. But, most likely while sitting back enjoying a cold brew, the perfect solution came to me: a surprise beer-tasting party!
For beer lovers, this is a win-win. Not only do you gather all your friends and family together for a fun celebration, but you get to try a wonderful assortment of beers you may not have picked to try otherwise. Just ask guests to bring a six-pack of their favorite obscure, unique craft beer.
I asked guests to bring beer in lieu of gifts, so everyone was happy to do so. Many people were excited to show off their favorite beer or even felt adventurous enough to grab one they’d never tasted before either. The result was an exceptionally diverse selection of brews that many of us had never tried. And, we had a lot of fun trying them.
Here are some tips and ideas for throwing your own beer-tasting party:
For an informal beer-tasting bash, the menu can be fun and easy – just mimic a bar menu to complement the beer selection and theme of the party.
The menu featured a selection of chicken wings and boneless chicken bites along with celery, carrots, bleu cheese and ranch. Guests also enjoyed chipotle mac n’ cheese “shooters” served in individual portions, and the birthday cake was a tried-and-true Chocolate Guinness Cake. Throughout the house, guests could find nibbles of a variety of pretzels, mixed nuts and olives.
For the décor, I was able to purchase some inexpensive posters online as well as some neat vintage-style metal signs for Miller High Life. My fiancé’s last name is Miller, so that naturally lent itself to the theme and incorporation the Miller brand – luckily one of our favorites!
I also had a set of the Miller High Life Great American Achievements beer steins and used those to hold plastic flatware. Instead of flowers, I used some inexpensive bundles of wheat placed in a couple of beer mugs. Another fun item you can use for decorating a beer-themed party are bottle caps; simply fill glass vases or candle holders with a colorful assortment of beer caps.
The invitations were my favorite part: an invitation in the form of a drink coaster! I added a little note explaining the beer-tasting details of the party, since I couldn’t fit a lot of text on the main invitation, but the coaster became a neat keepsake for the guests.
Now for the important part: the beer! I placed buckets filled with ice around the house so there were cold bottles of beer always within reach. I printed out copies of a simple Beer Scoring Card and encouraged guests to try various brews and score them along the way. Some little prizes were offered for the best beer and worst beer as voted on by guests, like a gold medal bottle opener for the winner.
Everyone was having so much fun that I sometimes had to remind folks to score their beers. But, never before have I heard so much lively talk about good beers – everyone felt like we were at our very own beer festival!
Everyone loved Abita Strawberry, the brewery’s seasonal spring brew, as well as Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Lagunitas IPA. Folks tried to kick off summer early by sipping on Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy brew, and beer lovers were excited to try Sierra Nevada’s new Ruthless Rye. In the end, a growler from The Casual Pint of Greenman ESB won the top prize.
For party favors, we provided reusable Cherokee Distributing Company tote bags and leather pint glass cozies from Highland Brewing Company. They were a big hit!
A beer-tasting party is a fun and easy way to try new beers and enjoy a fun time with friends. Try adding this twist to your next gathering and encourage your friends to arrive at the party with a beer that they love or have wanted to try – and are willing to share! As always, make sure your guests drink responsibly and utilize designated drivers.
Cheers to good times with good beers!
*Disclosure: Lauren Christ is a Senior Account Executive at Moxley Carmichael and handles Public Relations for Cherokee Distributing Company.