Guys and beer seem to have a natural affinity for one another. It isn't just having an excuse to belch extravagantly, either. Beer goes with many of the fatty foods men love like pizza, hot wings, potato skins and loaded nachos. Beer has become a designer beverage, too, rivaling wine in its ability to distinguish the connoisseur from the weekend wannabee.
This is good news if you're planning a beer-based evening. Guys will often have a preferred beer but still be open to trying new things, especially if there are some tasty munchies on hand. Even better, sample packs of seasonal beers are popular right now, and many come from manufacturers you know and trust. Having an assortment on hand is a way to introduce new favorites. Beer flavored with orange peel or cinnamon might not sound enticing, but bold, spiced and unusual brews can be surprisingly satisfying. Here are some other useful suggestions:
- Try a few crossover beers. They're mild enough to keep culture shock to a minimum while introducing the palate to something new and different. Some good options are lagers, pilsners and pale ales.
- Encourage guests to bring their more exotic preferences along. It'll expand the assortment and keep costs down. Just make sure everyone knows the headcount. That way there'll be plenty of everything to go around.
- Maintain beer at an even temperature to keep the flavor from changing. If you've chilled it, keep it refrigerated until serving time. If guests are bringing beer that has been refrigerated, make sure to have plenty of storage room in your fridge.
- All beer isn't served at the same temperature. For the best flavor, check the bottle for serving suggestions. Sometimes the temperature in your basement (55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) is a better bet for dark ales and stouts.
- Serve beer in glasses. Avoid using plastic or paper cups. Wine glasses will even do in a pinch.
- Between beers, provide crackers or tepid water as a palate cleanser. Popcorn works, too.
- Offer appetizers or other munchies to help counteract the effects of the alcohol. If things do get out of hand, have designated drivers standing by to make sure everyone makes it home OK.
One last observation: Beer tastings are supposed to be fun and genial throughout. There's no right or wrong opinion. That's why there are so many beers around to choose from.