I was never one for wine tasting parties. There’s something about all the work I have to do – smell, taste, spit, – that turns me off faster than a cheap date. Besides. I like to relax when I have a drink – not spit in a bucket. So when my I was invited to a beer tasting party recently, you could imagine my reluctance to attend.
I was mildly intrigued when I received an email outlining the party details. First I was assigned a region: Portugal. Next, I was instructed to bring 1-2 types of beer from that region; enough for a party of eight to get a sample. Fine, this seemed simple enough.
I purchased some Sagres, which is the most popular brand of beer in Portugal, and made my way to the party.
Inside, our hosts had spread out small glasses and a collection of snack foods. It was every man’s dream. There were chicken wings, popcorn, sausage puffs, nachos, snazzy pizza squares, and homemade salt & vinegar chips. This definitely beat out the smelly and far less snazzy cheeses you get at a wine tasting.
And then I saw it: The swill bucket.
We were really supposed to waste good beer by spitting it out? Not on my watch.
As I was about to pull a full blown hissy-fit, our hosts quickly shot me a look that said, “Shut up and let us explain, you newrd.”
To my surprise the bucket wasn’t for spitting beer out, but for rinsing our mouths with water between tastings. Still gross, but at least it wasn’t wasting perfectly good beer. Apparently, in order to fully appreciate the taste of beer (and its bitterness) one must swallow it, tasting it on the back of the tongue.
My hosts informed me that to throw a proper beer bonanza, at least 12 varieties of beer – wheat, amber lagers, white and dark ales for example – must be supplied, ranging from dark to light beers. It’s also fun to provide beer style guides, a beer listing, and pens and paper. I’m not the fussy primadonna type, I’ll drink what’s available, but other guests probably want to jot down which beers they preferred.
Another important tip when throwing a beer party is to have the tasting before people chow down on the party grub. They’ll be able to tell which beers they like and go on drinking their selection throughout the night.
Food pairings are also important. It’s not all about shkoffing down everything you see and guzzling down a pint, like at the local bar. When you’re done your tasting, be sure to have enough food for each type of beer. For example, if you’re drinking a Lager, chicken is often the best food pairing. Believe it or not, even pizza (like NG’s Pizza Night) is best served with a specific type of beer – try brown ales.
As the night progressed, not only had I learned way too much information about beer, but I also discovered that beer-tasting parties are a lot less snotty than those of the wine variety. We genuinely had a great time and most importantly, no one wasted good alcohol.