Love beer? Miss your friends? Host a virtual craft beer tasting! It’s a great way to learn about beer styles, expand your palate and, let’s be honest, can be a bit of a social lifeline in these dark and socially distanced times.
The concept is simple. You and your friends buy a bunch of beers you like (or want to try), you get on your video chat of choice, then you drink – and discuss! Like a wine tasting, you’ll inevitably discover nuances in flavours, aromatics, mouthfeel, appearance and bottling of each beer.
Here’s a guide to making it happen, but be creative! You can also host games and polls and other tricks only Zoom wizards knows.
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR BEERS
This is not the time to buy your usuals. Explore the big, wide world of Ontario craft beer! Consider special releases and one-offs from your favorite breweries – or take a chance on something you’ve never tried. If you don’t like, that’s as much of a conversation starter as loving it after all. We suggest a minimum of three beers, but no more then six. Many breweries are delivering straight to your door and this is a good time to take advantage of it. If you’re looking to explore brews from a couple different sources, consider a service or club like Society of Beer Drinking Ladies.
Here are three Ontario craft beers that are sure to start a conversation:
- Isolation Nation Pale Ale
Avling Brewery, Toronto, ON avling.ca
- No Signal Cranberry Raspberry Sour
Trestle Brewing Co, Parry Sound, ON trestlebrewing.com
- Lorna Gray Fly Girl Nitro Oatmeal Stout
Cowbell Brewing Co, Blyth, ON cowbellbrewing.com
STEP 2: GET ONLINE
You’ll want to choose a platform that has video and chat functions like Zoom. Pick a day that works for your group and send invites. This is your chance to share the beer list and get folks to order theirs in advance. You want to all be drinking the same thing after all!
You can either delve straight into a tasting, or you can start things off with a few ice breakers. Ice breakers can be cheesey, but they are also a great way to get the fun and creativity flowing before cracking open your tall boys.
STEP 3: DRINK AND DISCUSS
Things can devolve quickly if you don’t have a game plan. Get folks to set up their glasses and pour a few samples ahead of time. Keep things moving and use polls (or the chat) to record your reactions to the various beers. It will feel odd at first, but once one person does it – everyone else will feel more comfortable, we promise!
Professional beer tasters (and judges!) look for the following things when tasting beers. See if you can smell, taste or see any of them as a group.
- What does it look like? Observe the color and look of the beer. What colors do you notice? How well can you see through the beer? All of this doesn’t impact too much on a beer’s taste, but it does play a part in the overall experience of a beer.
- What does it smell like? Gently swirl your beer around in the glass. Stick your nose right up to the beer and take a whiff. What do you smell? Is it hoppy? Sweet? Smell plays a huge roll in the taste of beer.
- What does it taste like? Don’t just say beer. Try and go deeper. Do you taste fruit? Grains? Maybe burnt honey? Also pay attention to what you taste when you sip it and how those flavours linger.
The last question is probably the most important – and easiest to answer!
Do you like it? There is no wrong answer as everyone’s palate is different. The debate and differences between beer drinkers is what makes tasting it so fun!