If you’re a beer lover, as I am, tasting new varieties of beer can be a lot of fun. Tasting them with a small group of like-minded friends and family can make the experience even better.

My idea for having a beer tasting came when some friends and I were trying to decide what bar to go to on a Friday night. I wasn’t very excited about going out and spending $50+ on drinks at a place that played bad music. I also remembered the package store down the street from my house had a bunch of different beers I wanted to try. I asked they guys if they would each want to pitch in $10 or $15, and instead of going to a bar, going to the package store to pick out a variety of 6-packs. My friends weren’t as excited about it as I was. So I started explaining how I was going to make it different than just sitting around my place and drinking.

I started by going to the package store and finding 12 different 6-packs. This is an important step, because you want to choose carefully. I like to have a wide variety. I find it fun to pick out a few beers that are very common. This is fun because they wont know what beer they are drinking until AFTER they have tried it, but I’ll get into that later. Try picking out 3 common beers, 3 very exotic beers or microbrews, and 6 “regional” beer. By regional beers, I mean 1 beer from 6 different parts of the world. For instance, a German beer, a Jamaican beer, a British beer, an Asian beer, a Russian beer, and a Brazilian beer, as these were the 6 I picked. Before checking out grab some potato chips as snacks will be needed between beers. You will also want to make sure you have some 8oz. clear plastic cups before you get home.

Once arriving back at the house you want to set-up. Put out some bowls filled with the chips you bought. Give each person a big glass of water. The snacks and the water are needed to cleanse your pallet between tasting the different beers. Then, you want to get enough pens for your guests, and some paper or index cards. It is very beneficial to have a person who is not drinking take over as sort of a beer server. This person is going to go into the kitchen to pick out the first beer to be tasted. They will fill the plastic cups with 6oz. or half the beer. Without telling the participants what the beer is, they will pass out the plastic cups.

After everyone has enjoyed their first beer they should take a pen and paper and write what they thought about the beer. They can guess what they thought it was, critique it, rate it 1-10, etc. While filling out the paper, all of the tasters should drink some water and eat a few chips or crackers to cleans their pallets. Repeat this for the first 6 beers.

After the first 6 beers have been tasted, have everyone take a break. At this time your beer server should go into the kitchen and grab an empty bottle of the first beer that was tasted and cover it with a dish cloth or towel. Then, the server can reenter the room. Have everyone read what they wrote about Beer number 1. After everyone has read what they wrote, you know reveal what beer number 1 was. Do the same thing with beers 2 through 6. After this is complete, taste the next 6 beers, repeating these same steps.

This is a lot of fun to do with friends and family. I think 6 people tasting is the ideal number. Everyone has about 6 beers during the tasting and there is a lot left over for the rest of the night. I hope you and yours have as much fun with this as we did. Cheers!