Posted by Select Sheds on 3/15/2016
There is no better way to utilize your backyard
(or any space, really) than in the celebration of good beer with good
friends. Whether you are a brewmaster yourself, or merely an ale enthusiast,
gathering your friends for a laid-back outdoor homebrewing competition is
the perfect way to spend any weekend.
Turn your friends into judges for a day, and let your fellow beer-lovers
have fun tasting and voting for their favorite homebrews. Here's what you
need to know to plan a tasting party that will be one for the record books.
If you had trouble viewing the infographic,
never fear! Here's the same information:
"He that drinketh strong beer and goes to bed
right mellow, lives as he ought to live and dies a hearty fellow."
We all know that there are a lot of nitty
gritty details that go into party planning, but planning a homebrewing
competition comes with a couple of its own special set of planning
First things first: choose a theme. Not only
do themes make the party more fun for the guests, but it can also provide
a unique challenge to your brewers.
Pick a seasonal ingredient that every brewer
has to use when crafting their beer. Celebrate spring by requiring the
infusion of a flower, or ring in fall with pumpkin or cinnamon. Who used
Have the brewers meet together before the
brewing begins, and do a White Elephant ingredient exchange. Whichever
ingredient you get stuck with, it has to be incorporated into your beer.
Challenge the brewers to mimic one of your
favorite beers, and compare the imposters against the originals. Whoever
comes closest is the champion brewmaster of the evening.
Invite friends to brew! They could be
experienced brewers, or those wanting to try it for the first time. Just
give them plenty of time to prepare and brew, inform them of the theme and
any pre-determined rules (such as a minimum ABV, required ingredients, or
any beer naming or label design requirements), and make sure they know how
much beer they are responsible for bringing.
Obviously, this is a requirement of any
party. Considering this is a beer tasting, though, you may want to provide
your ale-loving guests with some details in advance. Get them pumped by
filling them in on the theme, awards and prizes, and who is brewing.
Inform them of a tasting cut-off time, so they know when to get there by
to participate in the judging. Also let them know if you plan on providing
designated drivers (an excellent call). If you have sleeping areas
available, makes sure they know they have the option to spend the night,
and can come prepared with a sleeping bag.
Now it's time to get your backyard ready for
the ultimate beer-tasting experience. How many brewers and guests you have
will likely determine your set up, so be sure to get a head count before
you settle on a party flow.
For a small party, set up a designated
tasting area, with every beer available, and plenty of room for people to
taste and make notes. For larger parties, consider giving each brewer
their own tasting station, and let guests do a mini tour-de-beer around
your backyard, making their way from station to station.
A food and water station is a must at any
beer tasting event. Not only will it help cleanse palates in between sips
of different beers, but it will help keep your grown-up tasting event from
turning into something more resembling a frat party. Avoid spicy food, or
any food that might overpower people's taste buds (you want to keep the
beer the featuring flavor here), and serve grub that is high in fats and
protein, to help slow the body's absorption of the alcohol.
When it comes to decor, think about what
would do well sitting outside overnight, in case you aren't exactly in
cleanup mode after a day of drinking beer. Have plenty of seating areas
for groups to socialize, and provide blankets for later in the evening
when the temperature starts to drop. You also don't want to make your
guests drink in the dark - string up lights and lanterns to set the
It's party time! Now that the brewers and
tasters have arrived, the delicious fun can begin. Welcome your guests
with a brief introduction of the brewers and any special challenges they
were given in this event. Provide them a little tour of your backyard
set-up, and let them know where they can find food and water. Lastly,
provide them with scorecards and pens, and let the competition begin!
Save the Solo cups for beer pong with your
college buddies. A proper beer tasting requires glass. Of course, pairing
different types of beer with the proper style glass is ideal, but mason
jars will do just fine. No matter what you do, though, don't use plastic!
Typical tasting pours are four ounces, so smaller glasses are preferred.
Start off your tasting with your lighter, lower-alcohol beers, such as
lagers, pilsners, and wheats. Save the hoppy, boozier ales for the end.
How you choose to judge is totally up to
you. You can go with a simple 1 to 10 rating, or choose a system that more
accurately evaluates different aspects of the beer. We prefer the second
option, as it gives brewers more comprehensive feedback, and helps guests
remember each beer more clearly throughout the process. Some point
categories to consider are: appearance (color, clarity, head, etc.),
aroma, initial taste, aftertaste, and how the beer feels in your mouth.
You can make up your own scorecards, or download some for free off the
After all the beer has been sampled, tally
up the scores for Best Beer and present the victorious brewer with their
prize. To make things more interesting, widen your range of prizes
available. Have guests vote on things like Best Beer Name, Best Beer Label
Design, and even the Worst Beer brewed. Make prizes available for the
guests as well. Perhaps they have to guess the special ingredient that is
in each beer. Whoever makes the most correct guesses wins a prize! This
way, everyone in attendance can revel in the thrill of competition.