Jul 2, 2013

A look at the 1st Annual Summer Beer Tasting and Pool Party.....

Setting up....
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a beer tasting party. For almost a year now, our friend Daniell (my latest guest contributor by the way....) and I have been talking about having a beer tasting party. Well, this past weekend, we finally pulled the trigger on it, and got it done! Being late June, we figured we would also make it a pool party. Being a pool party, I figured summer beer would be the way to go (the pool part never really materialized, since it was 118 degrees that day, no one wanted to go outside in the pool). It was held at the home of Daniell and her husband Bobby (awesome hosts, thank you!). It had everything you would like in a summer pool party tasting! A taco bar, with everything, chicken, beer, pico de gello, ceviche, beans, cheese, tortilla chips, you name it.
Our "Beer 101" display
We even had a sort of "Beer 101" display on a table, with a collection of various beer glasses, with explanations of what styles go with which glass, and why. Even a verity of loose leaf hops, for party goers to smell, and experience.
After some discussion, we figured, rather then have a sort of formal tasting, we would have a blind tasting, and make a contest out of it. We decided to have everyone bring their favorite summer brew, to enter into a blind tasting! Everyone would try each beer that was brought, blindly, and rate them all, and vote on their favorite one. The person that brought the top vote getter, won a prize (a beer glass set!).
OK, I will admit, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew most of the people that RSVP'ed, but not well enough to guess what they might bring for a beer. I was afraid we would end up with a dozen entries of Summer Shandy, a few Sam Adam's Summer Ales, and maybe, if we were lucky, a Mr Pineapple or two.
Again, I had no idea what to expect, but I can tell you, I was SO pleasantly surprised! Not only were there far more people there then I was expecting (so much more in fact, we had to totally change the way we conducted the tasting at the last minute) In fact, of the 19 entries we had, only one Summer Shandy, and the only duplicate, was Mr Pineapple, but lucky, one was a growler, and one was in cans, so we were able to distinguish them from each other. Here is a list of the beers entered and tasted.....
  1. Bells Oberon (that was my entry!)
  2. San Tan's Mr Pineapple in a growler (that was Mrs Czar's)
  3. San Adams Summer Ale
  4. Wasatch Summerbrue
  5. Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
  6. Laughing Dog's Huckleberry Cream Ale
  7. Unita Hoo Doo
  8. Sudwerk Hefeweizen
  9. Stone's Arrogant Bastard
  10. Anderson Valleys Summer Solstice
  11. Maui Brewing's Bikini Blonde Ale
  12. Sam Adams Double Agent IPL
  13. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy 
  14. Iron Horse's Irish Death
  15. Maui Mana Wheat
  16. Iron Horse's High Five Hefe
  17. Mr Pineapple (in a can)
  18. Iron Horse's Double Rainbow
  19. Shock Top
I have to say, I have always been a HUGE fan of blind tastings. When preconception and bias is totally removed from the experience, and all you are going on is appearance, smell, and taste, the results can be surprising. I must say, it was also fun, listening to the comments made about the beers people were drinking, not knowing what they were drinking at all. Some people didn't care much for the beers they brought, others ended up loving beers they would normally have turned their noses up to. Its funny, I am not sure anyone ended up voting for the beer they brought! Sadly, no one voted for my beloved Oberon, but in reading the notes, most people at least enjoyed it!
In the end, the hands down favorite of the evening surprised me somewhat. Not because it wasn't a "good beer", its in fact one of my favorite's actually, but rather because it was by no means what I would call a "summer beer", but Breckenridge Brewing's Vanilla Porter was a hands down favorite. In fact, the only other beers to get more then two votes, were Laughing Dogs Huckleberry Cream Ale (that got 3 votes) and Mr Pineapple (from the growler) got 2..

All in all, it was a great time! I want to send out my sincere gratitude to all of you that attended, for making this evening such a great time. Not only do I hope you had just half as much fun as I did, if you did, you had a great time, but I hope you leanred even just a little something about beer that you didn't know when you got there!

I also want to thank my wife, for all her help and support (and patience) going into this party. Most of all, I want to thank Bobby and Daniell for not only opening up your home to all of us, but for putting forth so much effort to make sure everyone there had a great time, and maybe even learned a few things.

If you were there, and have some comments or suggestions as to how to make our next party even better, either comment below, or email me at thebeerczar@gmail.com, I really would love to hear all comments, good or bad, its only going to help the next time!

If you would like to see all the photos from that day, you can check out the album on my Facebook page here, and please, while you are there, if you haven't "liked" my page, please go ahead and do so!
Keep an eye out for an invitation to the next one!

Thanks again to everyone, it was awesome, so, as I always say....
Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

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