Host a Beer Tasting Party

When it comes to observing Oktoberfest, not everyone has a local beer garden primed to host hoards of lederhosen-clad lads waving steins of beer. But I bet you kind of want to put on a dirndl and drink like a rowdy German. So why not host a few of your friends for a classy, civilized beer tasting party? A little more casual than wine tasting, but definitely more refined than tossing a few Buds into a bucket, it’s a fun way to add some friendly competition to a gathering. And look, if you all end up standing on your picnic table, singing loudly with your arms around each other at the end of the night, I won’t judge you. Okay? Here’s how to:

Oktoberfest decorations

The Basics

We’ve planned this party for 12—just adjust your quantities as necessary for more or less. The traditional Oktoberfest colors are blue and white (find plenty of decorations here) but I also like an autumnal scheme in oranges and browns.

Beer tasting party

Pre-Party Plan

To keep the tasting relatively simple, choose three beer categories (e.g., IPA, pilsner) and assign guests to a category ahead of time. Give them at least a week notice so they have time for their big task: To find two 6-packs of beer to bring to the party. You should end up with four options in each category to compare similar kinds of beer (e.g., 4 IPAs, 4 stouts, 4 pilsners). When they arrive, one pack is to taste, the other goes into the fridge as part of the grand prize.

Beer tasting bag

Set it Up

Cover up the tasting bottle labels with scrapbook paper, duct tape or a paper bag, but label them so you know which is which (you can buy kits online if you’re not crafty yourself)! Pour a small amount of beer into tasting cups and try each of the brews by type, starting with the lightest beer first, and rank the ones in that category from 1 (best) to 4 (worst). Consider printing out score sheets to keep track—might be challenging to remember your favorites once you’re deep into the tasting!

Beer score card

Pick a Winner

After trying all the beers, tally up the scores: Whichever beer gets the most ones on their score card wins that category, and the beer that gets the most ones overall is the big winner. Second and third place go to the beers with the next highest amount of ones on their score card. You can divvy up the prize however you’d like, but one way to do it is: First place takes home six 6-packs, second place takes four 6-packs, and third place takes home two six-packs. Anything else that’s left gets consumed at the party!

Photo credits (top to bottom): Casa di Falcone, Celebrations at Home, Evermine, and ScoutMob. Image on the main page courtesy Libbey.

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