How to Host a Beer Tasting Like a Pro: Battle of the Brews
So you finally made a tasty homebrew you're proud of. Whatever type of beer you're into—from crispy pilsners to juicy IPAs—making your own liquid gold is a rewarding craft. But why keep all the bounty and honor to yourself? Isn't it time to break out of your makeshift brewery and break open your bottles for a tasting with friends? Hosting a homebrew tasting is entertaining, educational and completely kick-ass. But, there's more to a good time than just sipping a bunch of different beers. (Did we really just say that?) The rules of engagement for hosting a successful home brew competition can be as challenging as finding some Tardif de Bourgogne hops. But fear not fellow fermenters, we've got you covered. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Download the Free Stuff

It's free, easy and only a click away. You can download our free How to Judge Beer and Beer Evaluation Sheet here. Print them, study them, and share them with your fellow competitors (more to come on who to invite).

Step 2: Stock Up on the Other Stuff

Other than beer, you'll need two essential things—Food and Beer Glasses. Don't fuss on proper food pairings, just keep the food simple and easy to eat. As for drinkware, glass is always best and most types are readily available to buy online or at your local brewery. Save the plastic cups for house parties. MrBeer02

Step 3: Figure out your Format

Before you can pick a winner, you need to pick the right type of competition. Just like beer styles, there are a lot to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites: Spectrum Tasting – These are when you compare beers from all different styles. A great way to explore the world of wort. Important tip: always start the lightest and lower ABV beers. Horizontal Tasting – Borrowed from fancy pants wine drinkers; this is a tasting of one style of beer. The trick here is to pick a style and have a few friends all brew their own spin on the same suds. Vertical – Borrowed from even fancier pants wine drinkers; this is a tasting from one brewer. (Psst, that's you.) So if you have the stash of a few different styles you've been brewing, then break them all out and let your guests go deep to into your greatest sips collection. The Pro Am – Like the golf tournaments no one watches on TV, this tasting is about comparing home brews to pro brews. Put your crew's creations head to frothy head against similar well-known brews. And taste how your skills stack up. Blind tasting – In this set-up, only the host knows what's in each glass. (Psst, that's you again.) You present your guest with each mystery brew and have them judge on its own merit. Even let them guess if they can name the style. All correct guesses win a high-five. (Optional.) Blind Judging - If you want to see who makes the best beer, this is your format. Recruit three people who know beer, but don't know who brewed what. Present them the unmarked samples and have them rank their picks. The Beer Tank - If you want to see who makes the best BS'er, this is your format. Inspired by the TV show "The Shark Tank," this set up is like the Blind Judging, but each brewer presenters his creation to the judges. They have two minutes to explain their process, display their label artwork and make wholly fabricated yet entertaining claims.

Step 4: Taste Away

You can't just crack a beer and knock it back. Well you can, but that's not going to help you appreciate the finer points of the pint. In fact, when tasting beer, you need all of your senses. Sight – You taste with your eyes first. Is the color and clarity appetizing? Is the head healthy or flat? Smell – Almost time to drink. But take three deep sniffs before you do. What do you smell? Hoppy? Fruity? Skunky? Delicious-y? Taste – Yes! Focus on your first sip. What flavors are standing out? Then note the finish. What flavors are hanging around? Touch – We're talking mouth feel here. Is it silky smooth? Light and bubbly? Flat and dry? Hearing – Did you hear that? It's sound of people having fun. Of course, all of your notes should be recorded on your handy tasting mat (download here) so you can keep track.

Step 5: Celebrate with Wild Abandon

MrBeer03 Most tastings aren't about winning or losing. It's about celebrating the miracle that is beer and learning more about what makes it tick—and what makes you want to sip. It's about sharing your craft with others and enjoying the moment. That said, if you make the greatest beer of the bunch, then please feel free to do a victory lap and make everyone bow in your presence.

5 Types of Home Brewers to Invite:

The Brewbie

You have to start somewhere. Sometimes you need a jump-start and even if they've never brewed before, now they have to. These newbies are fun and always excited.

The Macgyver

This brewer can brew beer with a match and a tin can. He's always experimenting with new ingredients and processes and will have a lot of fun brewing stories to share.

The Veteran Home Brewer

He's been brewing before a bung was called a bung. He knows all the in's and out's and is not afraid to share them with you.

The Beer Geek

Smart, knowledgeable, and non-judgemental, this brewmaster will try anything and give her honest constructive criticism.

5 Types of Home Brewers to Avoid inviting:

The One-Upper

No matter what you brew, they've brewed it before with ease, and it looked cleaner, and tasted better.

The Debater

He takes being a judge way too seriously and loves to hear himself drone on and on. Even if you're in agreement, he'll still debate your choices.

The Backseat Brewer

This guy is full of fault-finding negative comments but swears he loves beer. Except no one has ever seen him enjoy one.

The Closed Book

This tight-lipped brewer refuses to share any recipes will leave out key steps in his brewing process, and will never tell you where he gets his ingredients. Let him drink alone.

The Beer Snob

She's picky, self-important, and condescending. No matter what you brew she will look down on you because you're not a member of her exclusive online forum.

Download the Free How to Judge Beer and Beer Evaluation Sheet

Use our free How to Judge Beer Sheet to easily learn and refer to the proper terms and aspects that go into judging beer. Then use the included Beer Evaluation Sheet to record all the different competing homebrews and score them based on their color, smell, taste, and feel. Download the scoresheet here. This post was written by Ben Applebaum and Dan DiSorbo, co-authors of several popular books including The Book of Beer Awesomeness. Learn more about their shenanigans at