Want to gather the interest of several of your friends, the guys especially? Host a beer tasting party and you might just find that you are a true beer lover, yourself! Various brands that are not sold in your local grocery store will be a great place to start testing the waters, so to speak. The logical sequence of tasting beers is starting with the maltiest and ending the hoppiest. Beers are judged by their IBUs (international bittering units). The bitterness of the beer comes from the addition of the hops that are added during the brewing process. For example, basic brown ales have a very low bittering rate. Moving up to the very high gravity India Pale Ales (IPAs) that have very high IBU (meaning they have more hops).
The balance between the malt and the hops is what you are looking for, when it comes to distinguishing what your taste buds love the most. Some people cannot stand a hoppy beer, while others couldn't imagine a sweet, malty beer, being their beer of choice. Walk into any liquor store that has a specialized beer section and ask someone to help you pick out some beers for your party. Once you get a beer lover talking about their favorites, you might just find a friend for life!
Avoided, intentionally, is an entire class of common lager beers. These are the ones most people have in their refrigerator already, so this is to expand your beer horizons:
For the beer tasting party
- Nut brown ale: Tastes sweet and holds a nutty caramel flavor. Try brands like Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale or Samuel Adams Brown Ale.
- Scottish stout: Taste hints of coffee and is a darker, richer colored beer with a heavier malt content. Try brands like Kilt Lifter, Rogue Chocolate Stout or Rogue's Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout.
- Wheat beer - Hefeweizen: Tastes sweet and fruity both in flavors and aromas (bananas are typically hinted in the scent). Try brands like Shiner Hefeweizen, New Belgium Sunshine Wheat, Boulder's Sweaty Betty Blonde
- Porter: A dark ale, heavier beer with a sweet, chocolate and coffee-type taste. Try brands like Yuengling Porter, Hoppin' Frog Silk Porter or Anchor Porter.
- Classic American pale ale: Tastes leaning toward the citrus, yet not nearly as hoppy as an IPA. Try brands like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sweetwater 420 or Fat Tire Amber Ale.
- IPA (India Pale Ale): Has a very hoppy flavor with hints of grapefruit and citrus undertones. Try brands like Sweetwater IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone IPA or 60 Minute IPA.
Some of these beers are delicious to taste, while offering incredibly funny names to boot. (Like Arrogant Bastard and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA). No matter what, when enjoyed with good company, a beer tasting party will be a great time, for all. Visit your local breweries to get an even better taste for various beers, and many breweries offer growlers to purchase and take home. Franklin, Tennessee has Cool Springs Brewery where a Pecker Wrecker IPA is one of the most delicious beers you will ever taste. Or ask for their Chil Willi, a porter with a hint of spicy peppers. Asheville, North Carolina has Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company which offers a Ninja Porter or the Shiva IPA. In Sarasota, Florida, visit the Sarasota Brewing Company for a slice of pizza and a Midnight Pass Porter. You could also look for a Flying Saucer location near you. They are located from Texas all the way over to North Carolina. Here you will find hundreds of beers — both bottle and draught to try!
Planning vacations around local brew pubs might just become a favorite event for you, your family and friends, all stemming from a fun beer tasting party. A quick internet search will guide you to local breweries where you can enjoy the true art of brewing and tasting beer!