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Having a Beer Tasting Party, Keg Sizes & Planning the Perfect Menu
Thinking of having a party? Try something new. Throw a beer tasting party at home in 6 easy steps. Beer parties are a sophisticated way to enjoy all the artisan beers available and get together with friends.
1. Visit a good beer merchant and choose a variety of brews
Try choosing a brew specific to a world region like Irish, Mexican, or American. This will help you plan the menu and the decor. A few examples of Mexican brew might include:
- Negro Modelo
2. Create simple tap room decor
Create a bar atmosphere. A good idea is to cover your table with a chalk cloth. Create place settings with chalk and then provide guests with chalk for jotting down notes and doodling. Use beer and food as centerpieces to inspire a gastropub like feeling.
3. Organize your selections into 3 parts: light, amber, and dark
Make sure everyone has enough shot glasses for tasting and organize your selections according to light, amber, and dark brews.
4. Serve beer in order of intensity
Start mild and increase in intensity. Serve the stronger beers last. This results in a better tasting experience and a well-satisfied palate.
5. Provide score cards to match results
Provide guests with score cards. It's fun for guests to compare notes. A little inexpensive paper journal and mini pencil should do the trick.
6. Plan appetizers to go along with your beer tasting
No need to put together an entire menu. Beer tasting doesn't require a four course meal, but it is important to supply guests with tavern fare.
To accompany your beer selection, try the following ideas. A simple selection of cheese, nuts and crackers are always a hit and they can be snacked on throughout the beer tasting. Use wood cutting boards for service.
If you're looking to serve something hot then consider homemade pretzels with mustard sauce and the following Fried Mozzarella.
- 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup(s) panko or plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon(s) dried thyme
- Coarse salt
- Ground pepper
- 1 pound(s) bocconcini (bite-size fresh mozzarella balls)
- 2 cup(s) vegetable oil
- Tomato sauce for serving
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place flour in a bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs. In a third bowl, combine panko with thyme. Season each with salt and pepper. Working with 2 bocconcini at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, coat in egg, and roll in breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere.
In a small saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high until pinch of breadcrumbs sizzles and floats to the top when added. Frybocconcini, 4 at a time, until golden brown, turning occasionally, 2 minutes per batch. With a slotted spoon, transfer balls to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Keep warm in oven and repeat with remaining bocconcini. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping.
Once appetizers have been set and the beer tasting is underway. Fire up the grill and make some bite size sliders. These hearty bites will keep guests sated while they drink.
If you want to throw a keg party then choose the type of beer you plan to serve and consider the following keg sizes to better accommodate your guests.
Domestic U.S. kegs come in three sizes:
- A 1/6 barrel, also known as a mini keg, provides 5.23 gallons of beer which is equal to about 53 12oz. servings.
- A 1/4 barrel, also known as a Pony keg, provides 7.75 gallons of beer which is equal to about 82 12 oz. servings
- A 1/2 barrel, also known as a full size keg, holds about 15.5gallons of beer which is equal to 165 12 oz. servings.
Using a Keg
Once you've decided on the size of the keg make sure it's operating properly for safe and easy dispensing. The following are basic guidelines.
- The parts of the keg include: the keg, the handle, the tap pump, and the tap head, spigot.
- Make sure you have the right tap for your keg when you pickup the keg or accept the delivery.
- Understand the keg system you're using. Most microbreweries, Anheuser-Busch, and Miller use the Sankey keg system which is easier to use than Hoff-Stevens.
- Keep the beer as cold as possible. Use a kegerator to keep it cold and if you don't have one then place it in a large trash can or bucket and surround it with ice.
- Expect the first gallon to be a little foamy as it's been jostled some during transport.
Tapping a Keg
There are two different types of tapping equipment: party pump and gas taps. Party pumps use the outside air, essentially introducingoxygen and bacteria in to the keg. This causes the beer to oxidize. Kegs using a party pump should be used within 18-24 hours. Otherwise, it becomes unpleasant to drink. Gas pumps use CO2, and some breweries mix-in nitrogen, too. Gas pumps can preserve a keg for up to 120 days with proper refrigeration.
Make sure your tapping system is equipped with a pressure regulator and a pressure relief device.
Enjoy some at home entertainment, stay off the road, and throw a beer and appetizer party. It's the best way to introduce yourself and guests to a new variety.