How to Host a Beer Tasting Party

Having a beer tasting with friends is a great opportunity to socialize, try different beers, and learn useful information. If you’ve wanted to share some of your favorite and most unique beers with others, a beer-tasting party is a perfect way to do so. From the first opened bottle to the last toasted glass, here are the essential steps you need to follow to throw the best beer-tasting party ever!

The Resources You’ll Need

The ultimate beer-tasting party can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. Various beers are essential for getting started. Choose anything from four to six unique beers to share with your group. 

There should be enough glasses for everybody. Because the look is important, clear glasses are the finest choice. 

Consider snacking as well. Many craft beers have a higher alcohol content than mainstream brews, and that alcohol content can build up quickly.

Send Out Invitations

As much advance notice as possible, preferably 6-8 weeks, will allow people to make room in their schedules.

Whose names should go on the list? In all honesty, anyone. It’s a terrific chance to convert skeptics of craft beer, learn from the expertise of beer experts, bring together members of your extended family and friend group, and more. As opposed to experience, enthusiasm is more valuable.

Beer tastings are social events that benefit from open discussion and feedback from all attendees. Even if everyone in the group is familiar with one another and gets along well, the dynamics of a huge gathering might dampen those positive aspects. The ideal number of people for a conversation with a wide range of perspectives (and tastes) is between 6 and 12, as this size is yet cozy enough to let everyone feel like they can contribute.

a man sitting in front of a table with his hand near an almost empty glass of beer

Casual or Formal?

You can have a more relaxed get-together where people sip and taste beers as they converse, or you can have a more formal tasting where everyone tastes each beer as a group.

A casual tasting is more like a regular get-together with a loose focus on beer. Your pals will unwind and have a good time, but they may get less out of the beer sampling than you would like. This may be perfect for individuals unfamiliar with beer or scared of a formal tasting, but it may disappoint those who are there to learn as much as possible about the beer and the group.

A well-organized tasting allows everyone to learn about and discuss the sampled beers. Your buddies will need some time to get used to the new format, but they’ll get the hang of it in no time. Friends who want to go into the sensory experience and gain knowledge about the beer would love this, but it may bother those who want to let loose.

The two activities are analogous to each other but in very different ways: one involves socializing with friends while listening to music, and the other involves socializing while viewing a film. You can have fun with both, but one is less structured, and the other is more open. A tasting party that accommodates formal and informal preferences can consist of a tasting session followed by a long, relaxed get-together.

Understand What You’re Talking About

You should (if you still need to) learn about the various beer styles before purchasing for the beer-tasting party.  There are two primary categories of beer: ales and lagers, and within each category, you can find a wide range of styles due to differences in the brewing and fermenting processes.

different types of beer on a glass

Common beer varieties that fall under ales include:

  • Pale ale
  • Porter
  • Stout
  • Wheat beer

Using various yeasts, hops, and malts, skilled brewers can produce a wide variety of beer types; now, more than 100 distinct beer varieties are produced and consumed worldwide. The best beers from your home country or a selection of international craft beers could be the basis for your beer-tasting party menu.

Tasting Glassware

You’ll want to have at least as many tasting glasses as guests, and some people like to give each guest multiple glasses so they can easily compare the various offerings. Avoid using regular pint-sized shakers for this. Only a few ounces of each beer will be sampled, so a snifter, wine glass, or tulip glass will work nicely.

If you don’t have enough glasses, you can buy them at a thrift store, get plastic ones, or order some online if you want to go all out.

Don’t worry; in the end, the beer counts. Even if it could be better, you should make do with what you have. Upgrading to higher-quality glasses can only enhance your enjoyment.

two laughing women sitting on a bench while holding a glass of beer

Party Day

A few fun games or activities with a bar theme might be a great addition to the event. To this end, “beer brackets” are a fun way to incorporate alcohol into a sporting-themed game.

You can also host a “beer trivia” game to get the word out about the sampled beers. After all, beer education is just as important as beer tasting.

There is also the issue of the venue’s capacity. You need to have separate tables for each beer kind or style. Even if you can have as many as three or four different tastings at each station, everyone will still need breathing room to share notes and scout out the next best beer.

Even though you’re in charge of organizing the beer-tasting party, that doesn’t mean you can’t join in the good times. You’ll have lots of help as you set up the event and ample time to taste and assess all the beers displayed if you’ve incorporated all the participants in some way, particularly about all the last-minute practicalities.

In-Depth Evaluation/Review

After everyone has had a chance to drink each beer (you should give them 15 minutes per beer or longer as the number of guests increases), you may all come back together for some comments and conversation. To determine a group’s preference for a beer, you may have them describe and rate each one individually or raise their hands.

You can surprise everyone by revealing the “winners” after discreetly tallying the results of visitor surveys or evaluations. Finish up any ongoing activities, and hand out prizes. Use this opportunity to create a memorable recap of your event.

three men holding glasses of beer while talking

Beer-tasting parties are a fun opportunity to try out the many different craft beers available. You’ll love having the freedom to try out new flavors and combinations, from the tried-and-true to the adventurous. Instead of having a formal wine tasting at your next social gathering, try these tips for hosting a beer tasting with your closest friends.

If you need ideas and recommendations on what to give a party host, you may check out our list of Entertaining Gift Ideas for Hosts and Hostesses