Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Guided Beer Tastings

I hosted a couple of beer tastings over the last year at St John's. When preparing for each, it was a challenge to present as much of the world of beer flavor as possible in as accessible a way as possible.

In order to make beer styles easily understood, I decided to categorize each beer into one of three categories, based upon which ingredient it focuses on: malt, hops, or yeast. I think this is a pretty simple way to guide people to look for particular flavors in the beer they're drinking and to explain where they are coming from. For example, a weizen is yeast-focused, an IPA is hops focused, and a stout is malt-focused. I would progress in a general order from lighter to heavier.

I decided to offer seven "primary" beers with enough for everyone to have a reasonable-sized glass, and then ordered smaller quantities of five more beers which may not be to everyone's taste. At the end of the guided portion of the tasting, I introduced each briefly and invited everyone to sample what sounded interesting (in addition to polishing off whatever was left of the primary beers).

For the primary beers, I offered the followingall ordered from Bacchanalia, on Mill Rd:
I also ordered smaller amounts of beers which I thought people might appreciate an opportunity to taste, but not everyone would like a full glass of, including:
Favorites of those attending seemed to be the Rochefort, the IPA, the hefeweizen and the kriek, while the rauchbier had people talking for days after about "liquid bacon."

For those who were present at one of these tastings, did attending change the way you think of order beer? What would you have liked to have been done differently?

For other readers, what do you think of this approach and categorization? How have beer tastings you've attended been presented? Would you suggest any changes or substitutions to the list for next time?


Naterock said...

Liquid bacon huh? well I've never tasted anything quite like that before. GI IPA, SS Imperial Stout and all of the Rocheforts are constants in my cellar, despite the price of Rochefort here in Missouri.

Matthew Delja said...
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