Summer is the perfect time for a beer-tasting party, and Anton Erasmus, SAB Trade Brewer, has put together the ultimate ‘how to guide’, which offers you the best way to enjoy your party by pairing great food and even better beer.
Erasmus believes that “beer is a tad more versatile than wine, simply because beer is great especially on those hot summer days, nothing refreshing like a chilled brew.”
In addition, he has noticed an increasing trend towards no- and low-alcohol beers, which allows consumers to have a safer consumption experience by practicing ‘pacing’ by combining the consumption of alcohol beers with alcohol-free beers as a means of moderation. These beers can also be incorporated into the beer tasting party.
Let’s get started:
1. CONFIRM NUMBER OF GUESTS
When hosting a party, you need to establish how many people you are catering for, and in this case, how many beers you need to purchase (and food to pair with it).
Erasmus recommends a six-pack of each beer for a party of 20 people. This works out to three servings per a 340ml bottle of beer.
2. THE BEER
It is always nice to provide guests with more than one flavour of beer.
CRISP: All round lightness, less body with a sharp crispness and gentle lingering bitterness, such as Castle LITE or a Corona Extra.
HOP: Hop bitterness like a Hansa Pilsner with its unique Saaz hop or the Jacob’s Pale Ale from Newlands Spring Brewing Company with earthy and peppery notes.
MALT: Clean, somewhat dry, somewhat bitter, never sweet lager like Castle Lager or some roasted, caramel, toffee notes from Jacobs Pale Ale.
ROAST: Rich and smooth with roasted full mouthfeel, like Castle Milk Stout or some chocolate and cocoa notes from Chocolate Stout.
FRUITY: Low bitterness with a distinctive fruity aroma and taste, like The Newlands Spring Co – Passionate Blond with its distinctive passion fruit aroma or Hoegaarden with its orange peel and coriander aroma.
FLAVOURED: There is a variety to select from – the Flying Fish range of low bitterness fruit-flavoured beers (orange, lemon and apple). Budweiser is also an option with its honey aroma and traces of citrus fruits.
LOW OR NO ALCOHOL: Responsible consumption is important, so why not include these trendy beers. Examples of alcohol-free beers include Castle Free and Becks Blue.
3. SERVE CHILLED
Beers are best served chilled to optimise the tasting experience. Rather keep them in the fridge or on ice until they are served
To cleanse you palate in between beers, drink water.
The best part of a beer tasting is that you are not limited to serving your beers in standard beer glassware. You can have fun and mix things up with a variety of glassware styles per beer style such as standard/classic, snifter/goblet, tulip, flute, pilsner/weizen or stange.
Glasses with a wide bowl and narrow mouth ‘trap’ the beer’s aromas in the glass, making for a better tasting experience. If you do not have a vast selection of glassware, you can even use wine glasses. Also make sure all glasses are clean with no soapy residues as this will kill your beer foam.
For beer tastings, it is best to use smaller glassware as you will only be pouring the beer into a third of the glass. Remember it is a taster only.
Depending on your style or resources, you can always make printed beer notes, describing the beers that will be served – their aroma and tastes.
7. BLIND TASTER
If you are into entertaining your guests, you could build a blind tasting into the evening’s proceedings. Away from eyeshot, pour a beer of your choice into jug and then serve to guests with the notion they need to guess what beer it is. You can even have a prize for the correct guess – a six pack of their favourite beer or dinner on you.
8. DESIGNATED DRIVERS
You want everyone to enjoy their evening and drink responsibly; so ensure everyone has booked a taxi service such as Uber or Bolt to get them home safely.
As for snacks, make sure you have an assortment of low flavoured foods so that you don’t compromise your palate. Snacks such as unsalted pretzels or crackers and raw vegetables such as carrots and celery sticks should do the trick. If you really want to wow your guests, host your beer tasting with a food pairing. (See some suggestions below)
BEER & FOOD PAIRING NOTES:
Fancy going a little bigger? What about a beer tasting dinner?
Beers have so many complex flavours and extreme differences such as bready, caramel, hoppy and citrusy flavours, which often pairs well with food.
The two keys to pairing beer with food are either accentuating a food flavour or balancing it. Keeping in mind that every taster has a unique palate doesn’t hurt either. It’s all about finding harmonies to complement each other and staying away from any overpowering flavours.
It can be difficult to find the perfect match, but perfection should not be the goal here, creativity and enabling others to open their minds by tantalising their taste buds is your aim. If you take that approach, then your tasters will undoubtedly enjoy their experience and discover something new.
Here are some ideas …
Best paired with meat or chicken … think Flame grilled burgers, Grilled chicken & Chisa-Nyama, Chili con carne, BBQ ribs
CASTLE LAGER is best paired with meat. Braai meats such as grilled sirloin, or mild curry – it acts as a “semi-fire blanket” against mild curries only.
CASTLE LITE is best paired with light flavours, such as cold meats or salads and pasta salads.
CORONA EXTRA is best paired with Mexican meals. Go all out with seafood, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, tapas
STELLA ARTOIS is lovely with creamy dishes … cheese boards, Belgian mussel-pot and also steak dishes
BECK’S GREEN is excellent with sushi or meat, as well as spicy foods. Try it with rich oxtail and burgers
HANSA PILSENER is best paired with light flavoured foods and seafoods. SoLightly flaked herby white fish, crisp green salads with cream dressing, broccoli based dishes, fried camembert in phyllo pastry
CASTLE MILK STOUT is great with oysters and with puds. Also serve it with rich stews, oxtail, big flavoured roasts with intense sauces and any chocolate or toffee pud.
HOEGAARDEN is best served at brunch or lunch. Try it with Asian food, seafood, salads and at a lunchtime picnic.
LEFFE BLOND … keep this one for fine dining. Serve it with red meat and vinegary dishes,
NEWLAND’S SPRING JACOB’S PALE ALE is the one to choose if you’ve got complicated flavours on the plate. It’s lovely with wild mushrooms and cured ham.