A very dear friend of mine had an epic move recently. Leaving behind a life in Chicago that she had cultivated for years to turn the chapter on new adventures. She has taken a huge step boldly and courageously and is such an inspiration to me. She set off in style because, of course, she is fabulous. I was lucky enough to get to see her around the holidays in the city she had called home for years and where many a high tea, oysters and martinis, and memories were made together. I was sad not to be able to see her off, to throw her a goodbye celebration, to help her pack, or just to be there, as moving is one of the big stressors in life. Psychologists say it’s only rivaled by death; shocking! I found my mind drifting to thoughts of her constantly, worried about her drive over snowy roads, thinking about how her felines would adjust and of course, missing her all the while. I wanted to do something she would enjoy and having recently turned to a gluten free lifestyle, I started thinking of recipes I could do to honor her. Then it came to me. Gluten Free Beer Tasting. Perfection. She is a fantastic hostess and I thought what a wonderful way to celebrate new adventure and make new friends by throwing a brassy beer bash that even those with sensitivities to gluten could enjoy. So, from almost 2,500 miles away I threw a beer tasting party in her honor.
What I love about a tasting party is it gets people talking. No one pulls out their phones, or talks about work, people are talking about the experience, the flavors; the tastes. It’s a great way to mingle together different groups of people and a fantastic way to spend an afternoon if I do say so myself. You don’t need much to make it happen; a few small glasses, a few bottles of brews and an open palate! I did a blind tasting at my party. I feel that this makes people more adventurous, you may think you don’t like IPAs but are you really giving the beer a chance if you already have that opinion set? Blind tastings make us a little more open to trying things that we may already think we either like or don’t like. I used votive candle holders for my tasting cups. I found them to be the perfect size and priced even more perfectly! I grabbed a few mini chalkboards and whipped up a little tasting template you can download here if you don’t want to make your own. I choose 2 gluten free beers and 2 ciders for the people opting out of gluten and 4 beers of varying styles for the gluten indulgers. I began with a lighter beer, like a pilsner, then a red ale, an IPA, and a stout. If you need help picking out beers, someone on staff at the grocery store is sure to prove valuable and if you can’t find anyone, take a leap of faith! After all it’s just a taste!
I used old paper bags, cutting them to wrap around each label and numbered each 1-4 to correspond with the numbers I chalked up on the little boards. Then set out your snacks in little bowls and get to tasting and talking. Give your guests a little score card or note book so they can write up notes and when you reveal the beer they can be sure to write down their favorites to purchase later. I have included my template below for you to use at your Beer Tasting Party.
Blue Cheese with Cayenne Pepper Honey
Gluten Free Pretzels
Balsamic Candied Nut Mix
Salt and Pepper Popcorn
Balsamic Candied Nuts
- Preheat your oven to 350 and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
- Crack one egg in a mixing bowl and whisk
- Add two tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon aged balsamic and 1 teaspoon salt to egg
- Mix in 2 cups nuts (I used a mixture of cashews, pecans, and almonds)
- Spread onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes
- Let cool and break up any large clumps of nuts and serve – store in an air tight container
Salt and Pepper Popcorn
- Pop ¼ cup popcorn melt ¼ cup of butter and toss to coat
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix 2 tablespoon honey with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Beer Tasting Card
To friends and beer,