1. Go for variety
Pick up beer in a range of styles and flavours to up the odds that everyone finds something they like. The beers in this story cover six different styles to appeal to many palates.
2. Do the math
For a typical one-hour tasting, sample five to seven brands. Pour three to four ounces of each beer in tasters’ glasses. Those ounces can add up, so make sure everyone has a safe way home!
3. Use small glasses
A trickle of beer in a giant glass makes it hard to catch the aromas, which are best trapped with a tapered rim. Try using wine glasses or dessert-wine glasses, rinsing and drying (with paper towel) between pours.
4. Definitely inhale
Poke your nose in the glass. Those aromas are like movie trailers: they offer a sneak preview of the show. See what your nose picks up, then take a sip.
5. Geek out a little
Look up a few key characteristics of each beer style you’re tasting so guests know what tastes and textures to expect. First, try to figure out flavours. Next — the hard part — try to name them. Pear? Apple? Wheat? Coffee? Impressions will vary. Chatting helps everyone zero in on what they’re noticing.
6. Rethink the menu
Forget wings and nachos: During a tasting, offer water, bread or plain unsalted crackers between beers. Anything else will make it harder to pick up flavours. Consider a shorter tasting — three or four beers — and then dive into food afterward.