This week I hosted a BBQ dinner for friends. Throughout the appetizers and into the main course we sampled five Ontario craft brewed lagers, chatted about them, took notes and picked our favourites. Lagers are a welcome addition to any summertime BBQ- crisp, refreshing and highly drinkable, they pair perfectly with a hot summer day, grilled delicacies and good friends. The lager style of beer comes from the longer and colder fermentation process, which results in the clean and crisp beer.
Tips for Hosting a Beer Tasting:
I really enjoy hosting beer tasting dinners with my friends and family. They are always a great way to get people socializing and exposed to things they might not have tried before. Here are a few tips for having a successful beer tasting:
- Pick a theme. Maybe your theme is based on a beer style, maybe it is based on a geographic location or a type of hop- regardless a solid theme will help with the flow of your tasting.
- Lightest to darkest, Low ABV to high ABV and driest to sweetest. This will require a little bit of research but it can mess up the flavours in the beers to follow/ your guests palate for being able to properly judge the beers.
- Serve food that is a compliment for that beer. For this tasting I served buttery croute and brie, blue potato chips and we had grilled BBQ pork tenderloin with a pineapple, cilantro salsa. A little research on the internet will give you lots of food suggestions for pairing with whatever beer you choose, or feel free to comment on the post what you are tasting and I can offer suggestions. Having food also helps cleanse the palate to prepare it for the next beer.
- Provide paper for notes. I am a nerd and I usually print off a page with the names of the beer and prompts for the order of how you should be sensing and tasting the beer. Above is the sheet we used for the lager tasting which has space for notes on colour, smell, taste and other comments.
- Do a little research and give guidance along the way. You will want to be able to tell your guests little tidbits of information along the way such as the ABV %, where the beer is from, the style (if the beers are different) and interesting facts or stories about the brewery. Get people talking too. Offer up what you can smell and taste and see if it is inline with what your guests are getting from the beer.
- Smelling the beer- move your nose back and forth above the glass. This will help you detect scents that you might not get if you simply hold the glass or your head in a fixed position.
- Tasting the beer- take a big enough sip. You need to take enough of the beer into your mouth so that all of the taste buds make contact with the beer. This is a common mistake made by tasters and it causes the beer to sit lower in your mouth and only hit some of the taste areas.
- Encourage your guests to get descriptive. Avoid “it tastes like beer”, “it tastes hoppy” and “it tastes malty”. Dig deeper. For example perhaps when something tastes hoppy, it in fact tastes like grapefruit pith or citrus rind. Or when something tastes malty you have caramel flavours or toffee.
Rock Cut Baysville Lager (LCBO #338392) by Lake of Bays Brewing, Baysville, ON
Colour: Brassy gold, golden caramel.
Smell: Sweet apple blossom, apple sauce.
Taste: Apple and citrus, light and refreshing with a clean smooth finish.
Neustadt Lager (LCBO #76166) by Neustadt Springs Brewing, Neustadt, ON
Colour: Deep caramel, golden straw, brassy and slightly cloudy.
Smell: Lemon, caramel and honey.
Taste: Ginger, honey, pear and yeast. Smooth and creamy.
Cameron’s Lager (LCBO #243741, #286609) by Cameron’s Brewing Company, Oakville, ON
Colour: Pale yellow, straw yellow.
Smell: Pear, sweet smelling.
Taste: Apple juice, crisp and clean. “The beer I would take to drink all day at the cottage.”-JB, guest tasting judge.
Creemore Springs Premium Lager (LCBO #6445, #637744) by Creemore Springs Brewing, Creemore, ON
Colour: Golden amber, deep honey gold, caramel brown.
Smell: Caramel, honey and laundry.
Taste: Bitter honey, fresh bread, grapefruit at the front with a buttery finish.
Barking Squirrel Lager (LCBO #267773) by Hop City Brewing Co., Brampton, ON
Colour: Amber, dark maple syrup, burnt orange and caramel.
Smell: Caramel and grapefruit citrus.
Taste: Sweet toffee, citrus rind with a clean finish.
Our Picks: The Favourites From Our Tasting
Every lager we tasted was a hit and were all good in their own regard, but here is the group consensus on how they ranked against each other (thanks again @jessicabearss and @l_l_macdonald for attending and weighing in!):
#1: Barking Squirrel, voted best of the five local lagers by RM, JB and LM
#2: Tie: Cameron’s Lager (TP, JB) and Creemore Springs Premium Lager (RM, LM) for both flavour and drinkability
#3: Rock Cut Baysville Lager (Voted top choice by TP based on refreshment and drinkability)
#4: Neustadt Lager