A Note from BBC15 Sponsor, Brew Bracket. Mike from Brew Bracket will be pouring at the Beer Social Expo on Friday starting at 8:30 pm. Swing on by and try some of the other conference partners beers in side-by-side blind tastings!
Blind tasting is not for the faint of heart. I’ve seen people say bon voyage to the beer they keep stocked in their fridge year round, fall in love with their new favorite brewery, and proclaim they have just tasted the best beer ever from a brand they’d be embarrassed to have in their shopping cart. Blind tasting is for the bold folks that want to strip beer down to the core (sight, smell, taste) and embrace whatever beer emerges from the fray.
Branding is important, but it isn’t everything:
I love some of the stories in the craft beer world. The personalities of the brewers involved are a huge reason why I frequent some breweries over others. But it helps to be able to balance the folklore with the specifics I like within a style, and I’ve always found it really hard to disentangle the two. Blind tasting is the best way to cut through a “best beer” ranking and decide for yourself if a beer is worth waiting in line for three hours to take home a 4-pack.
Don’t overwhelm with options:
I’m not a fan of the 8 beer simultaneous taste test. I get wholly overwhelmed hopping from beer to beer trying to remember if number 6 or 7 was the fruity or earthy one. Head to head blind comparisons are the simplest way to process the tradeoffs. Two options, but you can only have a pint of one. What were the subtle differences between the two that made you lean one way? Putting some structure into this format can help things run more smoothly. For a fun “tournament of beer” setup in this head to head blind tasting, see the Brew Bracket hosting kit (brewbracket.com)
Ask one person to host:
The magic of the blind taste test is that it is truly, completely blind. Even knowing some of the brands represented behind mysterious unlabeled cups affects bias as you look for something familiar. Ask the host to pick out all the beer themselves, and keep it blind until the end. Rotate the responsibility and have some fun when it’s your turn to run the show.
Never stop tasting:
Make the blind tasting party a regular event. Rotate styles and categories. Pull options out of a hat or make it “host’s choice”. All IPAs, all pumpkin ales, all beers made with Cascade hops, all canned beers, all beers with names that end in “ator”…the possibilities are endless.
So get out there. Try some beers. And remember that beer is subjective. What matters is that you know what you love and why you love it.
Mike Sale is the co-founder of Brew Bracket. Since 2011, Brew Bracket has been running live beer tasting tournament festivals to help put people into their perfect pint.
Recently they’ve extended their reach into your living room with the “at-home” Brew Bracket Kit that also just launched a Kickstarter campaign. The Brew Bracket Kit is possibly the best beer festival you’ve ever hosted in your living room. See the campaign at: