"Beer Tasting Party"
                                  Jim Attacap

You've become a craft beer aficionado and now what to share your insight with your
macro drinking beer friends but wonder how to do it.  Easy, throw a tasting party.  
Well maybe not that easy.  Still, if you follow these few tips you might make more
converts to seriously good beer than you could ever imagine.

First, please remember that people who have never tasted anything but macro-
lagers and so called pilsners like Coors are typically leery of new beers, so gently
lead them into new pastures with light-colored beers.   Many of these people  believe
the myth that darker beers are  heavy and high in alcohol. You won't convince them
of the truth so start your tasting with blonde and light pale ales that generally are
perfect for crossover beer drinkers.

Many who are new to craft beer might be put off by your use of special glasses for
some beesr.  You should use ones they are familiar with such as  pilsner glasses or
shaker pint glasses.  Avoid goblets or challises and of course do not use plastic,
paper or metal containers that impart beer with off tastes.

Serve each of your beers one at a time and have pitchers of water and water glasses
available for guests to cleanse their palates in between tastings, as well as a rinsing
station for glasses to avoid mixing beer flavours. Spittoons are not appropriate
because, unlike wine, beer has to be swallowed for the tastes to be appreciated and
analyzed. However a "dump bucket" should be available just in case someone simply
cannot tolerate the given sample.  It's also wise to provide mildly seasoned crackers
or lightly salted popcorn to keep palates fresh. Avoid spicy or salty foods that
confuse the taste buds.

Besides ingredients, temperature is the biggest influence on the taste of beer.
Regardless of the type of beer, it should be stored between 7 degrees C and 13
degrees C. To maintain optimum flavour, store the beer upright and away from direct
light, and keep its environment consistent. Obviously nn extra refrigerator set to the
correct temperature and devoted to beer chilling is perfect but for most people
impractical.  As such, remove a beer from the fridge at least ten minutes before you
intend to serve it.  Don't worry, it will still be chilled enough for those waiting for a
"cold one" and warm enough to bring out the brew's subtle flavors.

Serve lighter beers like lagers and pilsners between 7 degrees C and 10 degrees C,
standard ales and stouts between 10 degrees C and 13 degrees C, and strong
beers and ales between 13 degrees C and 16 degrees C. A good rule of thumb to
follow is the higher the alcohol content, the higher the preferred serving temperature.

In choosing the beers to serve, remember that a haphazard selection  could result in
clashing flavors that can obscure the way some beers taste. To avoid this try to pick
a theme for your beer tasting that will showcase common flavors and brewing
approaches, allowing you to pick up on the subtler aspects of a beer or beer style.
Sticking to one style such as IPAs or one region, such a Belgium, is an easy way to
do this.

Lighten up the party with blind tastings of specified brands and types. List all the
offerings on a large erasable board and let each person rate them on a scale of one
to 10 for appearance, flavour, head quality and aftertaste. Create a door prize by
filling a decorative basket with one bottle of each featured beer.

At the end of the party, you and your guests will be more "beer educated" — and
what better setting is there to get an education? You may not agree on what beer is
best, but the path to learning couldn’t be more fun to navigate.

Huge Beer Tax