Beer Fests and Beer Tastings and Beer Pairings! Oh My!
(Part 2 of 3, but actually 2 and 3 of 3 because I lumped them all together. It’s really long. Deal with it.)
Pairings, Tastings, Bottle Shares and Tap Take-Overs: A breakdown of what you can expect.
Now that you are all pros on beer fests (see archive in case you missed the memo), we can talk about pairings, tastings, bottle shares and tap take-overs.
Let’s take a look at each one of these guys and see if a bit of insight can make them less intimidating and squeeze out the fun of each kind of event.
Huge with foodies. Why? Because you are pairing (typically, really interesting) food with beer. You have seen this done with wine for ages as you have seen most other activities that have exploded in the realm of beer recently. Garrett Oliver, the ever studdly (yes, that’s a word just ask G.W. Bush) brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery, literally wrote the book on pairing food with beer.
Gastropubs, little indie restos and now the big boys like BJ’s are all in the beer pairing game (Not totally hating on the chains, but I’d steer clear of them, personally). I have hosted two formal dinners like these and attended more than my thighs think I should.
Now, think Tequesta Brewing Company’s Gnarly Barley Pale Ale paired with The Federal’s Potted Wabbit, served with whipped brie, candied guava and crusty bread. Or perhaps Terrapin’s Pumpkin Fest seasonal lager (not an ale, which is pretty uncommon in pumpkin/yam beers) alongside Yardbird’s warm outside in apple pie served with a spiced ice cream that was made with Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron Brown Ale. Enticed yet? You should be.
Moral of the story: Keep your eye open for these dinners, especially ones with opportunities to meet the brewers behind the beer. It is educational, palate pleasing and an all-around good time!
TASTINGS (and Bottle Shares…because why not lump them together, eh?)
For tastings, my go-to is to be like “Jennay” from Forest Gump and hope to become a bird so I “fly far, far away.” Yes, that’s right, we’re talking flights kiddos! Samplers, “those little glasses sitting on paddle,” tasters, whatever you want to call ‘em. In my book, they’re the best bet for a tasting and the answer is always, no, you do not have to drink everything in front of you. Now let’s keep in mind a tasting and a bottle share are really two of the same thing, but often times the venues are where the difference lies.
Formal tastings are typically held at a public venue, like the one I held at Lester’s in Wynwood. We had a solid line up of a progression of craft beers ranging from Pilsner, Saison, Witbier, IPA (say it with me folks, Eye Pee Ayyy not Eeepa), American Strong Ale, Tripel, Porter and a Stout. We poured into small glasses and offered some background info on each of the styles along with giving the enthusiasts time to resonate and discuss the beer profiles. It was a learning experience and just an all-around party for most everyone there.
A bottle share is usually at someone’s home and typically you need to know the secret knock or handshake to get in. Kidding. Well, no not really. The exclusivity factor usually has something to do with what kind of beers will be poured. I have a knack for over extending invitations when I host these events and things tend to get a bit too hazy too early in the night but what can I say, my favorite part is watching how the beers have changed so much since I first began hosting shares in 2008. In all honesty, though, the key is to go small or go home with these.
Bottle shares can be a ton of good times because you’re spending quality time with friends and really diving into the beer. You tend to spend some time researching the beer on BA or ratebeer while you taste it, compare notes and have the opportunity to open some pretty rare and unique finds if you snag the right folks to share with. Oh and of course, checking in onUntappd and posting photos on IG to make the other kids jealous tends to be a common them as well.
I mean really, what is more fun than saying “Na-na Na-na Boo Boo” with beer?
TAP TAKE OVERS
The last type of event is pretty self-explanatory but let’s throw it in for good measure.
A tap take over is when you have a particular brewery (or their distributor) come in and take over all or most of the taps in a bar for an evening. I just hosted the Craft Brewjas first event in Broward last month at Tap42 for a Cigar City tap take-over. Basically, there is a representative from the brewery there to educate the consumers about the beers they are pouring and to be an ambassador for their brand. These can be great especially when there is a particular brewery that may not distribute their entire portfolio on an ongoing basis. You’ll hear talk of “rare kegs” and shrieks of excitement from folks who “have been waiting to try that beer FOREVER.”
If a place does it up right, they offer flights of the taps that are taken over, those that don’t (and you know who you are, this is my virtual fist shaking in the air at that idiotic behavior) unfortunately, inhibit the patrons from sampling everything because it is just too much beer for one person to consume and not have their palate be wrecked before the whole thing is over. Whoa, that was a run-on sentence…sorry Mrs. Horton, my 7th grade English teacher.
Ok, so that wraps it up. Hope it makes more sense to you and did I mention that I LOVE hyperlinks and sidebar convos?
Until next time…
Read Part 1 of Beer Fest and Beer Tastings and Beer Pairings! Oh My!
Follow the Craft Brewjas: