This post is brought to you by Hops and Habanas, your craft beer and premium cigar experts.
Have you noticed that all the cool kids drink craft beer? For the past year or so, whenever I’m at social events, the guests are happily drinking craft beer and actually have knowledge about the type of beer they’re drinking! Talk about feeling left out! I didn’t know what beer to choose and after randomly selecting one, I had no idea what to expect as far as the taste. My solution? Hosting my own craft beer tasting party!
Since I’m not a beer drinker, I didn’t really get the craft beer hype, but after being exposed to the different brews and brands at Hops and Habanas, I wanted to learn even more and maybe even become a craft beer connoisseur.
In short, craft beer is beer that is produced by small, local breweries called microbreweries or craft breweries. These breweries produce small amounts of beer and are usually independently owned and have their own special techniques and flavors. I’ve actually had the opportunity to tour one of our local breweries, Lucky Town Brewery, and seeing how beers are made was truly fascinating.
The first step to hosting your craft beer tasting party is to select which beers you want to feature. I visited Hops and Habanas, a local craft beer and cigar retailer here in Jackson. I love Hops and Habanas for several reasons and besides the ambiance, the staff is my favorite thing about the place. They’re so knowledgeable and helpful, especially for people like me who have no clue where to start. Every single beer that I’ve tried based on their recommendations, I’ve liked. Sika has even made a special concoction for me to try. It was so tasty that I forgot it was actually beer!
There are two ways to approach your tasting party, but you should keep your guests in mind first and foremost. You can either focus on trying a spread of beers from your local brewery or you can choose a flavor theme like pumpkin or bourbon. Because we’re newbies, I decided to go with a theme. Sika handpicked the beers for my party because I specifically wanted seasonal brews and I loved that she made sure half of them were brewed in Mississippi.
Here’s what we tried:
- Lazy Magnolia Black IPA (brewed in Mississippi)
- Lucky Town Lucky 5th (brewed in Mississippi)
- Yazoo Winter Seasonal (owner is from Mississippi but brewed in Nashville)
- Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll
- Rogue Yellow Snow
- New Belgium Accumulation
After selecting your beers, keep them cold until you’re ready for everyone to taste. I set up the spread before everyone arrived and once they got to the studio I poured a little beer in each of the personal cups. I also had pretzels, cheese, sausages, nuts and crackers to compliment the beers and give our taste buds a break in between tries.
The most important part other than the beer selection itself is the discussion that follows each tasting. Encourage your guests to discuss their thoughts and opinions after tasting each beer. It was fun hearing what everyone thought and we all pretty much agreed on our favorite – the Cinnamon Roll brew. You can create feedback cards if you want to be fancy and have the data to help you select beers in the future.
If you’re interested in hosting your own tasting party and you’re local, you can visit Hops and Habanas in the Fondren neighborhood in Jackson. Their website has a beer inventory selection for you to browse and they also offer kegs if you’re having the party on a large scale. Check it out here.
We had a really great time and I plan to host more of these throughout the year!