Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beer Tasting Party

Jason's birthday was last Friday.  And before you read any further you should know 2 things: (1) he turned 29 and (2) he's not big on birthdays.  When I say "not big," I cannot remember a single birthday party.  I'm sure we did something for his 21st birthday, but I'm not sure what.  This year I decided he needed a birthday party.  It is, after all, the last year of his 20's.  *We upgraded a little for Jason's 30th Birthday - lots of other fun ideas.

I've decided that planning any party/gathering for a guy is difficult.  They just don't seem to appreciate matching plates and napkins and frilly drinks as much as girls seem to.  But I still wanted to do something nice.  So after some awkward Pinterest searches, I do not recommend searching "adult male birthday parties," I randomly stumbled across a beer tasting birthday party.  Eureka.  I looked at several ideas to get a good feel about what I did and did not want to include and the fantastic party below came into existence.

Not only was I thrilled with how everything turned out, the boy was very happy too. 

The biggest problem I ran into was planning the actual beer tasting itself.  Several of the parties I looked at simply had different types of beer placed in different ice buckets depending on type (ales, pales, etc).  But I wanted this to be an actual tasting, where everyone was drinking the same thing at relatively the same time.  Initially I planned on just buying enough six packs for everyone.  But, after some serious googling, I discovered that a Whole Foods near me has 18 beers on tap (which are conveniently listed online)  that you can buy in a growler.  I tentatively picked 5 from the online list, but had to make some last minute changes when I actually purchased the beers.  Fortunately the beer guy at Whole Food was super nice and helped make sure that I had a good balance of beer types and flavors.

I wanted to keep the food and decor fairly simple.  I resisted the urge to buy actual glass tasting glasses (but will inevitably do so when I have a house), and instead found the smallest plastic cups I could find.    I made the chalkboard table runner by spray painting (with chalkboard spray paint) a roll of white contact paper.  This was super cheap and super customizable.  The tablecloth is a linen/canvas blend piece of fabric that I picked up at Wal-Mart for $2.50 a yard.  I bought the golf pencils for the tastings, which I think added a fantastic little element.  I stored extra pencils and chalk in shot glasses around the table.  I used my always handy jars to display leaves I ripped of a tree in my backyard, which was enough flowery-like things for Jason.  I also placed a "dump bucket," which was actually a vase, on the table in case anyone really hated a beer.

For food I served pub type food, but kept it fairly light because we planned to have dinner at a BBQ place.   Food included chili lime pistachios, beer chips, cocktail sausages, soft pretzels and various mustards, and sopapilla cheesecake for the birthday boy.

I downloaded the beer bottle printable and changed the "cheers to you" part to "Happy Birthday Jason" using photoshop.  I designed an invitation, which I texted to everyone and gave to Jason in a sealed envelope with strict orders that he couldn't open the envelope until he was in our driveway.  The actual tasting party was a complete surprise for him.  

I also designed tasting cards and hanging tags for the growlers on photoshop.  The tasting cards listed each beer and had a place for notes and scores.  One of my favorite parts of the party was listening to everyone read their scores and notes.  Some of the responses were pretty hilarious.  The hanging tags contained the brewery (or the beer)'s logo and information about the beer.  We read these at the beginning so that everyone had an idea of what each beer would taste like.  

Below is what the tasting sheets actually looked like and because I love you all so much, I uploaded blank ones (sized to fit 4 on a regular sheet of paper) for you! (I think, if it doesn't work let me know.)  And if you use the tasting cards, please link back to me.  Those things took quite a while to design.  Thanks.  Due to some unscrupulous copying and attempted sales of my beer tasting cards, I've taken the link down.  If you'd like a blank copy of them, just shoot me an email and I'll gladly send them your way.

And that's the beer tasting party in all its glory!  Thanks to everyone who came; I hope everyone had as much fun as we did!

For more beer related party ideas check out Jason's 30th Birthday!