Wine-tasting is popular, but what about all of those beer-lovers out there? Beer needs tasting and pairing, too. Considering that a lot of my friends are beer drinkers, I decided that it would be fun to host a beer-tasting/ pairing dinner party with a small group of friends.
Plan (& Be Nimble If You Have To Adjust!)
I tend to be laid back when having people over, but every once in a while I like to throw a well-planned out party. This was one of those times. However, we all know that life happens. And it sure did the week before the party. My daughter ended up having some medical issues, our oven was broken, and I had to go out of town on a work trip the day of the party. SO, I adjusted. I came up with a menu that didn’t require an oven, could be done quickly on the spot (and then tasked my husband with 2 of the items that required some work earlier that day!), and moved the party to my parents’ house (who were out of town) so that the sitter could put the girls to bed in their own beds.
I tasked my husband Ken with a variety of day-of tasks, including picking up the beer at various local breweries. Somehow, he didn’t mind that part at all.
Here’s how it turned out.
Like I mentioned, I didn’t have much time to plan decor, so the day before I quickly made the menu using Word and the placemats using Canva. I printed the menus off at home on card stock and ran to Kinkos to print the placemats.
I purchased a digital beer-scoring card from Etsy and printed those off. I got a roll of black paper that I could use chalk on to run down the center.
And voila! We were in business.
Create the Pairings:
I really wanted to support and showcase local beers, so I set off to a few local places to get the beer to pair with the food. In general, it’s a good idea to introduce the beers from lightest to heaviest (just like with wine), so keep that in mind as you’re choosing the beers to serve.
TI love strong cheeses, but I knew that wouldn’t be a good mix with the lighter Saison that I chose from Mraz Brewing Company. So we served a goat cheese, an il Forteto Pecorino Toscano Fresco, and my personal favorite, a Cinco Lanzes Garcia Baquero.
For the second course, we served a Strawberry Arugula Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette. (do you see that the place-setting says tropical spinach salad? oops. no one cared). That was paired with a Strawberry Blonde from Out of Bounds.
For the main course, we served Double-Smoked Beer-Brined Pork Chops with Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Ken made a delicious sauce that he put on top that he made up- it had apples, onions, and…. well, I don’t know what else. But, it was SO GOOD. We paired it with a Fort Rock Hazy Hop Goblin IPA.
For dessert, we went super quick and easy and served Chocolate Lava Cakes from Trader Joes. Yes, we nuked dessert. Those of you who have had one of these lava cakes know that they’re divine. We paired it with a Red Bus 8w- 50 Mocha Porter, which is Red Bus’s newest brew. It is a bourbon barrel-aged beer infused with cold steep coffee from Folsom’s Argos Cafe, and chocolate from Snooks.
Figure Out The Flow
We served each of the beers in glasses to everyone with the corresponding course. They then filled out the tasting sheet and guessed on the beer. We DID tell them that all the beers were local in order to narrow things down a bit and make it more fun.
I had a blast researching beer pairings and loved learning more about the beers we have locally and what pairs well with them. It was also so fun to hear what guesses everyone made and their reaction when they found out what it was!
I really hope this inspires you to do something fun.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of work, I promise! The important thing is going with the flow and treating your friends to something special.