Hosting an Informal Beer Tasting

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My husband received a variety of different craft beers as gifts at his 30th Birthday Party, so I thought it would be fun to drink one of each at a beer tasting!  Our parents were visiting for a night before attending the MN state fair, so I thought this was the perfect occasion to try all of the beers.   I usually go all out making my events themed and matchy/matchy, but this beer tasting was very informal using the beers we had on-hand and things I had around the house.  The only thing I bought special was the food, and it still turned out really fun! 

Here's what you need to throw together a fun, laid back beer tasting:

-Beer:  We sampled 14 beers between 5 of us, which was a good amount.  Everyone had a good taste of each beer, without being forced to drink too much if it wasn't their favorite. The amount of beer overall seemed right too for a weeknight social. Our beers were determined by what my hubby got as gifts, but fun themes might be Octoberfest, lagers, mexican beers, imports, nostalgic  beers (Grain Belt, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hamms), etc.

-Beer List: I visited the websites of all the beers we tasted and copied their pictures and descriptions into a word document.  I sorted them in the order we were tasting them and printed for each of our guests.

-Fun Bar Food: We has a variety of snacks both store bought and homemade including cheese straws, smoked salmon, candied bacon, buffalo chicken pinwheels, and sausage/cheese/pretzel bun skewers.  The food was fun and fancy but still easy to execute and went well with beer.  I tried to plan the menu so we could try some new foods along with the new beers.

-Great Atmosphere: We hosted our beer tasting on our deck, complete with patio lights, wood table, and  colorful outdoor pillows. The temperature was perfect and croaking frogs took the place of a playlist. The space was comfortable and festive for drinking beer,eating snacks, and talking for a couple of hours.

-Real Dishes & Glasses: Rarely do I use paper cups/plates when entertaining, as it looks and feels much better to use real, plus I think it's easier to load the dishwasher than take out the trash.  Small white square plates are perfect for appetizers at any party, or for everyday use. We poured beer in our juice glassed which were the perfect size for a beer tasting.  

-Fun Napkins: Since I didn't go all-out with a theme, I at least wanted the cocktail napkins to be fun.  I buy fun napkins whenever I see them and pull them out for various occasions.  These 'DRINK' napkins were perfect for our beer tasting. A mariposa napkin holder is a must-have for easy entertaining.

-Insulated Beverage Tub: We used this to keep all of the beers cold and within reach on our deck.  I have two and use them both pretty much whenever we have company.  Be sure to get one thats insulated to avoid water drips from condensation. It will also allow you to set out drinks and ice before guests arrive, making entertaining easier.

Blue Cheese Squash Hash

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This squash hash is my favorite fall dish.  The recipe can be found here and is from my favorite restaurant, 112 Eatery (if you haven't been, it's  'I eat there on my birthday every year' good). I think I make this dish even better by adding bacon, that usually makes anything better.  The blue cheese makes it great with a glass of red wine.  I made it once already this year with squash in my CSA, and will definitely be making it again!

Thrifting Haul

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I love it when my friend Halle from craft club posts pictures of her goodwill and garage sale finds, so I thought I'd do the same! Here's what I picked-up while running errands yesterday.

$3-A small glass jar to hold matches next to a candle on my coffee table tray.  I was so excited I filled it with matches as soon as I got home.  I plan to etch the bottom of the bottle for striking the matches, but if I don't get to it I might just cut the striking tip form the matchbox and tape it to the bottom. I found it at Hunt and Gather in Minneapolis.

$3-A snowmobile trophy top.  This thing is solid metal.  Since there's a screw on the bottom where it attached to a trophy, I though it might be cool to attach to a cork and use as a bottle stopper for one of my husband's scotch bottles. We'll see if it works. Also from Hunt and Gather.

$15-Solid wood antique dresser.  I've been looking for a piece with a lot of character for our entryway for years, and at this garage sale the price was right (I think I could have gotten it for $10 but I have a personal rule not to negotiate on anything I've been searching more than a year for!) It's dark cherry, not black as the photo conveys.  The hardware is original so I figured that was at least worth $15.  Not sure if I'll paint it, strip and stain, or chop up for firewood (it kind of smells musky, and the drawers stick, and my husband hasn't seen it yet, so its fate is unknown.......)

$1-Boomerang. How can you see a boomerang at a garage sale and not buy it?!?! They guy selling assured me it worked. I'll have to wait to test it out at my parent's farm. I'm upset with myself because they also had a bucket of metal baseball bats with a handwritten sign that said, "Protect your house!" that I thought was really funny. I planned on snapping a photo of it until the boomerang distracted me.

Retirement Wine Cork Ornaments

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This year both my mom and my friend Kathee from Craft Club retired.  For something special, I made them both cork ornaments  using corks from the wine served at their retirement parties.   

Above are ornaments I made for Kathee symbolizing things that she would do in retirement, and below is a Christmas tree I made with the remaining corks. 
With some eyelet screws, beads, ribbon, and glue the possibilities of cork ornaments you could make is endless. This is an easy way to make a little reminder of any special occasion, just remember to save the cork!

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