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How to organize a beer tasting and beer dinner

Rob Fink
WTOP Beer Contributor

WASHINGTON – It’s been said many times before, but the sentiment is well worth repeating: Craft beer is all about community.

On the commercial level, this sense of community is evident in collaborations with fellow breweries. And on a consumer level, it’s often rooted in beer tastings and beer dinners.

Some of my most poignant beer experiences have been at a table surrounded by a group of like-minded folks, relishing the immense comfort of good food and good beer.

Across several years of coordinating beer tastings and beer dinners, I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, but I’ve also made a few good choices. When something clicks, it becomes immediately apparent.

Below are a few basic guidelines to help maximize your beer tasting and beer dinner adventures:

Beer Tastings

Beer tastings can be as simple as gathering friends for a few beers, or as complex as a staggered tasting with snacks and water acting as palate cleansers between beers.

It can take the shape of a tasting where a few beers from a particular brewery are featured, or a tasting can be premised upon a specific style, such as a collection of American IPAs.

The colloquial phrase in the craft beer community for these types of events is “bottle share.”

Beer Dinners

Beer dinners are ideal to highlight flavor details of craft beer and beer’s inextricable agricultural link to food.

Both beer and food possess the capability to enhance one another in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere. However you choose to orchestrate your beer dinner, below are some general guidelines that can help you achieve true beer enlightenment.

Basic conceptual frameworks for pairing:

  • Harmony: Harmony-based pairings are typically the most intuitive of all pairings. Think about cooking methods, ingredients and their consequences.

    The char from a grilled beef kabob echos the toasty caramel malt profile of traditional M