How to Hold a Beer Tasting Party

Beer tends to be a common addition to many a party but you can take it up a notch by getting guests to explore the different varieties of beer rather than sticking to their usual. By throwing a beer tasting party, you have the opportunity to taste a selection of different beers, award prizes for the best guesses and ultimately help your friends discover new beer styles that might wow them.


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    Invite a group of friends over for the beer tasting party. Be sure that most of them enjoy beer. Even those who don't like beer though, can be encouraged to at least try a few on the off chance that they might discover one they do like. Send email invitations with photos of beers or make paper invitations in the shape of a beer bottle or similar.
    • Keep the group of friends small for the beer tasting event. This makes it easier to spend time together and to keep the costs reasonable.
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    Purchase the beers for tasting. There are several ways that you might approach this:
    • Buy a range of beers across different brands, randomly.
    • Buy a range of beers of a particular style (lager, ale, stout, etc.)
    • Focus on the season and buy beers suited to the season (e.g., lager for summer, stout for winter)
    • Pit imported beers against domestic beers, buy a few of each
    • Try some organic beers
    • Throw in some boutique or even some home-brewed beers if you can get some.
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    Set up the beer tasting area. Display each bottle chosen so that guests can see what they're tasting. Arrange 3 ounce sample glasses near the bottles for pouring samples of each beer into. Note that the wider the glass, the better for the aroma of the beer, as your nose is an important part of the beer tasting process. Also leave normal beer glasses for guests to help themselves to if they'd like to have more of any kind of beer; this is a party and their enjoyment comes first.
    • If you have the time and interest, search for some additional background information on the beers and make small background sheets or notes to accompany the bottles. Guests could read out this information to each other or simply read it at their convenience.
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    Make beer tasting score sheets. A simple table can be produced on your computer that allows guests to rank taste, texture, finish, head, etc. of the beers. Leave space for comments as well, as some guests might like to explore the taste impact further, pointing out fruity notes or how they didn't like the beer, etc. Print off enough for guests, plus some spares. Also find enough markers for each guest to use.
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    Pour the beer. Don't fill the sample glasses. Only pour about a third of a cup's worth into each sample glass. This ensures that the aroma can fill the glass and prevents the over-indulgence of any beer by guests during the tasting stage.
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    Encourage guests to try the beer in a suitable order. Beer should be tasted in order of lightest flavors to heaviest. This cannot be guessed by color alone; the more hoppy, high alcohol level beers should be left until last as they're the heaviest flavors. Unlike wine, beer must be drunk, not swilled and spat out. This is because some of the beer flavor is tasted at the back of the tongue and swallowing a few sips allows this flavor to be captured.
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    Encourage snacking in between all beer tasting. This will help to clear the palate between beer tastings, keep alcohol levels lower in the bloodstream and prevent hangovers from over-indulging in the beers. Suitable snacks include crackers, cheese, fruit, raw vegetables and pates and dips.
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    Consider awarding prizes. There are several possible approaches to this, including:
    • Sending guests home with a goodie bag with a few beer samples inside and perhaps a beer inspired food item, such as a beer cake recipe or a bag of pretzels.
    • Award a prize for the most interesting or comprehensive tasting notes.
    • Have a blind tasting competition to see if guests can guess which beer they're tasting, awarding the prize to the guest with the most accurate guesses.


  • Beer games could be incorporated into the event, perhaps at the end when everyone has done with tasting and just wants to enjoy the drinking.
  • It's a good idea to let guests know that they can stay overnight or catch a cab from your home rather than expecting them to drive themselves home after drinking. Set up the spare guest room with sleeping bags, couch cushions, etc. to accommodate as many people as needed.
  • If you can get hold of a book about beers written by a beer tasting expert, this can be a nice touch for guests to read through. Also, consider looking online for beer tasting expert's reviews of any of the beers you're putting out for tasting. All reviews should be read after the beer tasting though, so as not to influence your guests' own opinions.
  • If you're up to it, a meal could also accompany a beer tasting party. It's probably a good idea to have at least one helper though.
  • It's recommended that you ask guests to refrain from wearing perfume or cologne for the beer tasting event, as these can interfere with the bouquet of the beers.


  • Ensure that there are designated drivers or cabs ordered for the trips home.
  • Drink responsibly.

Things You'll Need

  • Variety of beers - for every right people, you need two 12 ounce bottles
  • Beer glasses
  • Paper and markers
  • Snacks

Article Info

Categories: Beer and Cider | Parties