Have you ever been to a wine tasting? With all of the pomp and circumstance of pouring, swirling, sniffing and sipping? Generally, there’s a lecture about which hillside the grapes were grown on… Eager participants question the winemaker regarding the merits of sea air versus mountain air for various grape varietals. Then you move on to “chewing” the wine to see if you can find notes of pear, nutmeg or dirt only to learn that of course none of those are actually in the wine. Final step? Spit. SPIT! After all that, we aren’t even really drinking it? For shame!
Yeah, I’m more of a wine drinker and less of a wine taster. But, I like the idea of a tasting party… sampling different varietals and finding the perfect one. Only, I want to have FUN. So I thought, why not do something similar but with something my peers will relate to: Beer! After all, isn’t beer the new wine? I’d like to think so.
Hosting a Beer Tasting Party
The Beer: Pick a style, any style! Pilsners, Lagers, Ales, Stouts, Porters, Belgians, whatever! Or, pick a brewer and sample each type of beer they make. Really, there are no rules, just go with what you love! For my Great Beer Tasting Party, we went with Ales.
Our contenders included:
Sierra Nevada, Whole Cone Imperial IPA
Barrel Trolley, Nut Brown Ale
Goose Island, Honkers Ale
Natty Green’s, Elm Street India Pale Ale
Eviltwin Brewing, Hipster Ale
Tank 7, Farmhouse Ale
I found all of these selections at 201 Central, Harris Teeter’s Wine, Beer and Specialty Food Store, but you can find most of these (or other favorites) at your local Harris Teeter.
The Tasting: I chose to do a blind tasting and have party attendees try and match the beer to what they were sampling. I lined up six pitchers (I found inexpensive ones at Ikea), each with a numbered label on them. I set up a pouring station in my laundry room so that I could pour my beers away from guests, and not have to pre-pour the beers too far in advance.
Attendees received a sheet of paper listing numbers on one side and beer names on the other. After tasting the beers, guests were asked to pick which beer was in which pitcher. To make it more fun, the guest with the most correct answers at the end of the tasting received a few of the beers we sampled as a “prize.”
The food is just as important as the beer, if you ask me! Fortunately, I found everything I needed to pull off the party with very little effort thanks to Harris Teeter! Seriously, this was such a low effort event to put together, but I think it was one of the most fun parties!
1. Awesome snack foods! The HT Traders Monumental Salted Peanuts were amazing! And if you like it HOT, don’t miss the Pineapple Habenero Salsa. Wow!
2. Nothing goes together better than beer and pretzels. We served them with some fun mustards for dipping
3. Spinach Artichoke Dip. Pure deliciousness! Thaw 10 ounces of spinach and mix with 2 cans chopped artichokes, 1/2 cup of mayo, 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, and 3/4 cup of shredded Parmesan. Top with 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips.
4. HT Traders Flatbread Pizzas: Several varieties and crispy crust every time!
5. Farm Rich Jalapeno Poppers: I had meant to get a picture of these after they came out of the oven, but they were gone before I got the chance. Definitely a crowd favorite!
6. Next to the pretzel, bratwursts come to mind as a perfect pairing with beer. Gilbert’s Beer Bratwurst from Harris Teeter didn’t disappoint! We grilled these bad boys up right before the party started and sliced them for easy party noshing. Aren’t those little mustache pickers adorable, too?
We also had one heckuva cheese tray. If you haven’t checked out the Gourmet Cheese selection at Harris Teeter GO. Now. You won’t regret it! I set ours out on a slate cheese tray and chalked out the names of each cheese so guests knew what they were trying. Too bad my handwriting is terrible. ;)
Good times were most definitely had! To keep the party lively, we had a cooler full of favorites on the patio and a well-stocked fridge of wines, sodas and seltzers.
Of course everyone got to take home a coozie to remind them of their good times!
Oh, and you might be wondering… which was the crowd favorite? Barrel Trolley Nut Brown Ale. Ironically, that is also Harris Teeter’s private label! Go figure!
Don’t Drink and Drive:
Please ensure that each guest has a designated driver and drinks responsibly. I’ve always found it’s a good idea to post phone numbers of local taxi services on the door, to make it as easy as possible for guests to get a ride home should they need one.
Looks like fun, doesn’t it? Tell us what your favorite party food is and be eligible to win a $100 gift card from Harris Teeter!
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*Harris Teeter provided me with the supplies for the party and compensated me for my time. All opinions are my own.