Hosting a Tasting - Question

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by LeRose, Dec 28, 2022.

  1. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Question for the collective mind. I've had people over and we've more or less had things evolve organically into tastings, but this is an intentional "event" with us and two guests.

    Our guests are casual craft drinkers and they do use UnTapped. My questions isn't so much what to have or how to serve - I have better stock that some stores. Right now I have 8 or 9 picked ranging from Kolsch style to a pastry stout. Capturing different brewer's and styles. Some 13 ounce, some 16 ounce, nothing outrageous yet in terms of ABV. They don't like bourbon, so that stays away from some "big boy" beers.

    Too many? Not enough? What do ya'll think?

    My question is how many beers would be appropriate. Or just wing it and go with the flow - easy enough to change things up, although not everything is chilled.
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  2. swid

    swid Maven (1,418) Jun 5, 2004 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Assuming that's going to be split between four people, you're looking at up to about 36 oz/person with your current amount.

    Given the size/style preferences of the group, I suggest having 12 picked out and ready, divided roughly evenly between "we're definitely going to open these" and "TBD depending on where the flow of the tasting takes us".
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  3. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Good point - have a plan, but not set in stone. New deal doing this by intent!
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  4. jonphisher

    jonphisher Grand Pooh-Bah (3,164) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I say wing it and go with the flow @LeRose. Those are the only “tastings” I’ve experienced…pick one to start…

    “which one do you guys want to try next?” And just keep going from there. Just my two cents which isn’t even worth two cents…
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  5. BigIronH

    BigIronH Grand Pooh-Bah (3,526) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    This is all I’d want to hear at a friends tasting.
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  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society


    My suggestion is that you type up a Beer Menu list and provide it to your guests and ask what piques their interest.

    I will be attending a New Years Eve party and I will be bringing a case (24 bottles) of a mix of homebrewed beers. I will bias the mix to be a lot of IPAs and Oatmeal Stouts (which is a favored beer for my friends) but an assortment of others. I print out the Beer Menu which I tape to the top of the cooler and I just ask: what'cha want?


  7. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I have done the same thing - informal tastings limited to about 4-6 beers representing maybe 2-3 sort-of-similar styles (i.e., maybe porter, stout, and some big malty German ale, but not a pilsner and a stout in the same setting) and also "planned" blind tastings, generally using about the same number of beers. I Would pick out an initial offering of not more than 5 beers representing a few different styles, see what is popular, then bring out a couple more of the most popular style(s) during which time maybe not everyone ends up drinking the same thing. Maybe two people split on beer while the others split something different that is more interesting to them. I have had good success with starting out with a blind taste of the initial beers, then do the reveal, then follow with more beers of the most popular styles.
  8. Domingo

    Domingo Grand Pooh-Bah (3,896) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Just wing it and err on the side of having too much beer rather than too little. If it's anything like every tasting I've ever been to, some items will be unpopular and left mostly full while people can't get enough of something else that drains instantly. Start with the milder items (flavor-wise) and build to the items that are bolder. They last thing you want to do is serve a Kolsch after something with a zillion IBU's. At the same time, remember that some milder items can still be rather punchy (Lambic, kettle sours).
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  9. Mighty_Thor

    Mighty_Thor Initiate (147) Dec 5, 2021

    Determine the total Standard Drinks: one 5%ABV 12OZ beer = one Standard Drink (SD)

    I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but when I do a beer tasting, I like to have an idea of how many total ABVs the beers I will be offering will be. It's a bit of math, but I simply ballpark it.

    1) How many people (including myself) will there be, and how long will we plan to be spending drinking. ie. 2 people for 5 - 6 hours.

    2) I think about how many we can handle in an evening. eg. I don't like to have more than 4 - 5 beer equivalents a night, and I don't like to drink more than one an hour. If the others are in general agreement, great; if not, I make sure I have plenty for those that want to drink more (actually I do this anyway). i.e 2 people for 6 hrs. = twelve Standard Drinks.

    You can use this calculator to simplify:

    3) After figuring out which beers I want to sample, I convert each beer to a Standard drink. This can get tedious, so for an example let's say I am doing an imperial stout tasting: (I ballpark all of these, or round to the nearest SD):

    2 Expedition Stouts at 10.5% 12OZ = four SD,
    1 BBA Expedition Stout 13.4% 12 oz = three SD,
    1 Founders CBS 11.3% 12oz = two SD,
    2 Left hand Black Cherry Nitro at 7.7% 13.4oz = two SD,
    1 Perennial Intentionally Indulgent at 11.5% 16 oz = three SD.

    Total = fourteen Standard Drinks. Not too many more than twelve, and yet plenty for my friend and I to have in a roughly five - six hour evening.

    One caveat: It's not likely everyone will drink or empty of each of the beers (depending on the number of people there, and the ABV of the beer, I usually pour out 2 - 4 OZ per person at a time, and there is almost always something left over in the bottle/can), so I like to have more than enough for everyone.

    It may look complicated on the surface, but I find it's worth doing the calculation (although I am not an accountant, I am comfortable with math and doing figures, so admittedly, this may be easier for some than for others).

    I hope that helped.

  10. BigIronH

    BigIronH Grand Pooh-Bah (3,526) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I think this is worth noting and was one of my original thoughts on the topic. If one is comfortable dumping a portion of each beer, the volume of beers you can try in an evening and comfortably serve a guest increases. Although with roughly four people, that may be only 3 to 4 ounces of beer per person of each beer (unless you are serving larger format bottles). To me, this is the perfect serving for a tasting. Cheers.
  11. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I was planning on 4 ounces as a serving, less with a 12 ounce, obviously. Kinda flight style one beer at a time. I have plenty of beer in the house, so if there is a trend I can ride it for a while. I have ample duplicates of anything I would offer initially, too, so if somebody has a particular binky, they are welcome to more.

    It's a lot easier with the unplanned way of doing this. Usually it's people I know fairly well and it more or less just happens naturally. So I'll fret and worry about it for a while, decide I have overplanned it and probably end up flying by the seat of my pants!

    As far as the ABV, I plan on keeping the big beers to probably one or two. I'm not sure they would be well-received to begin with and it'd not work for me to pour a big boy I like down the drain. I have a pretty good selection in the 5% and under range.

    Thanks for all the ideas - I'm sure it will go fine.
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  12. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Give us a post mortem and let us know how it works and what was popular…and not.
  13. Mighty_Thor

    Mighty_Thor Initiate (147) Dec 5, 2021

    That's great that you can do it at your house. I am always taking the beer somewhere else, and sometimes driving afterwards, so I have to very carefully plan what to bring.

    Yeah, it's not fun pouring out a high ABV beer, but for me most of the big beers I sample were bought years ago, so I look at it as a sunk cost; and the guy that hosts it sometimes caps the beers--wine stopper--to drink for later.

    Have fun with your tasting!
  14. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I don't have enough paper to print the menu in my house! And I don't know these folks well enough to let them forage for themselves. So I'll go semi-guided, introduce some styles they may not try on their own from breweries they never heard about.
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Larry, you need to have more tastings!

    When can I come over and help you out with your 'problem'? :wink:

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  16. AZgman

    AZgman Pundit (892) Dec 22, 2011 Arizona

    I agree with the suggestion of give an initial small pour of 2-3 ozs. Once the "tasting" process is over, folks can make an educated choice of what to revisit with a larger pour.
  17. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Grand Pooh-Bah (3,600) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I'm curious what the "purpose" of the tasting is? Or maybe motivation is a better word? Is it just for fun? Did the guests express some desire to learn more about craft beer?

    If it's the latter, it might be fun and informative to make up an initial line up of 5 or 6 beers designed to give an over view of the range/history of craft beer in America. And then you can sort of explore off shoots from that framework.

    If it's just for fun and socialization then I think you've got a great plan
  18. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Fun and social, mainly, but I do hope I can introduce some new things at the same time. Got plenty of reserve to go which way the wind blows.
  19. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Grand Pooh-Bah (3,600) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Sounds like you're well prepared then, I'm sure it will be a good time
  20. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    So here's the aftermath...likes over number of people.

    Springdale Kolsch Money - 4/4
    Oxbow Loretta - 4/4
    Treehouse Wycinanki - 2/4
    Foundation Guava's My Jam - 4/4
    Lake St. George Kerplunk - 3/4
    Barreled Souls Speakeasy Mango Pineapple Mojito - by request -1/4.
    Lake St George Common Wit - 4/4
    Allagash Curieux - 3/4
    St. Bernardus Christmas - 4/4

    The mostvimportant thing is a fine time was had, a lot of discussion and some interesting conversation and comments on flavor. One guest was much more "try anything" than the other who clearly likes what he likes, but we did open the horizon just a little!
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

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  22. MrOH

    MrOH Pooh-Bah (2,999) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    Used to go to a big spring stout tasting party back in the day where lots of people brought all the stouts they had saved up over the course of the year to enjoy while the weather was still cool and clear out some cellar space. By the end we were fighting over the High Lifes at the back of the fridge. So, it's nice to have a theme, but have some other stuff in there to keep from having the palate getting worn out.
    ChicagoJ, Mighty_Thor and Rug like this.
  23. LambicLad

    LambicLad Initiate (142) Feb 15, 2017 Minnesota

    One idea is to be very informal as I have been. At home I've had tastings where I just keep on bringing beers up from the basement. Nothing as formal as a beer menu or a set amount for each pour. Everything in the basement is well chilled this time of year. Play it by ear and perhaps surprise your guests with something out of the ordinary.
    ChicagoJ likes this.