As I alluded to in last week's post, we hosted our Third Annual Backyard Craft Beer Tasting over the weekend – and it was a success!
I thank my co-hosts and former bridesmaids Linda and Katie for their help in pulling this off, and my parents for graciously letting us use their backyard.
We switched up the format this year, which made for less stress as host and emcee. In past years, each guest or household would contribute a growler of their choice and we'd organize the beers by category as guests arrived. Then, we'd go beer-by-beer, giving a brief description of each brew, identifying food to pair it with, and pouring for our 20+ attendees. This took a long time to get through, and became repetitive.
This time, we arranged for a select group of people to bring a total of 10 beers, and we knew what kind of beer would be available to us ahead of time. This made it a lot easier to plan our tasting menu, and to organize the event itself.
We chose to put the beers out all at once so people could taste at their leisure. I drafted the "On Tap" list, complete with the name of each beer, type of beer, brewery name, location and ABV. We re-used my wedding table numbers – to great effect! – so that people could follow along with the order of the tap list.
The theme of this year's tasting "Bid adieu to summer, cheers to fall" so the list began with our most summery beer – a shandy from Tuckerman Brewing Co. in New Hampshire – and wrapped it up with our coziest offering, Aspetuck Brew Lab's Sweet Synthesis milk stout.
Here's the complete list:
We included an Oktoberfest, some pumpkin beers, and had surprise entries midway through the tasting – Veracious Brewing Company's Bloobs (American wheat ale with blueberries, another summery option) and Piglet Porter. We encouraged guests to pair the last four beers (a pumpkin brown ale, a regular brown ale, the porter, and the stout) with dessert.
Speaking of pairings, we had quite the spread for our complementary "bites" menu.
We had a delicious cheese and meat plate (thanks, Mom!)...
...and vegan Mexican dip, tangy buffalo chicken dip, and good, old-fashioned onion dip.
I did some extensive research on what beer pairs well with which foods, and devised a pairing menu that guests could refer to. (Check out my last post for inspiration for beer and food pairings.)
We rounded out the afternoon with a cookout and continued to enjoy the beer. This year's craft beer tasting was the best yet – casual, but well organized, and everyone found a new beer they liked! That's the point, isn't it? Looking forward to next year's 4th annual bash!