I had the pleasure of leading a beer tasting for someone's birthday on Saturday night and it was a great time. I brought a typical light to dark tasting and was fortunate enough to have some great fresh hoppy beers with me as well. I also brought a special surprise for the guest honor because what's party without a surprise? I was in a small apartment that had a few rugrats crawling around so I kept the intro section short and included the additional details as I talked through each beer. It was a good curious group that had a lot of great questions that lead to some good discussions on the possible "terroir" in East Coast vs. West Coast beers, beer trading and hops, hops, hops!
NOMADer Weisse - I wanted to start things off with something light and tart, and everyone is always curious about sour beers so I find imperative to bring one to every tasting. This is one of my favorites and I plan to have a cooler stocked with them this summer to have a beriliner weisse duel with Cayuga Cruiser. As usual with sours it was 50/50 in the room about how people felt about it. A few responses were on the realm of "I could drink one and enjoy it but not more than that", which is something I usually hear about stouts but I get it. The rest were either and staunch, "no" or strong "yay." I always tell people with sours to give them more than one chance because they're very different from anything they're accustomed to drinking when it comes to beer so give up after one shot.
Apex Predator - Farmhouse Ales, the great equalizer. Complex enough for beer nerds but light and easy drinking enough that everyone will enjoy them. I picked this particular beer because I wanted to make sure I grabbed something that people had never tried before. Off Color is known for making sour beers and the free rise fermentation they use for this particular beer definitely makes it stand out next to other saisons. Nearly every person in the room loved this beer except for one who started shaking her head after the first sip. She admitted she usually likes saisons but something about this one wasn't for her, which happens, they can't all be winners. This was actually my first time having this particular beer and I was definitely a fan and it's something I would drink on my own dime any day.
Equinox IPA - As I stated above hops were the hot topic of conversation so I was very happen to have brought a "single-hop" IPA from Other Half. I put that in quotes because they're not totally transparent if this is truly the only hop used in the boil or if it's the only aromatic hop used. No matter, I just felt like making a nerdy point. In my opinion Equinox isn't the best hop for beers like this but it still has soft enough green flavors that make it enjoyable without being too aggressive. The yays and nays were mixed on this one. It definitely has a strong bitter bite which might have been the turn-off for some but others were a fan and it lead to good conversation about how hops are used and how we're starting to see more and more single hopped beers so drinkers can learn to appreciate each hops flavors.
All Green Everything - The ringer, there always has to be one. Both this and the Equinox were less than a week old purchased directly from the brewery and AGE is such a well balanced beer for being a "triple IPA." Many IPAs I've had that are over the 10% abv tend to be too sticky or too bitter for sake of racking up a high IBU count but not this one. This was also a great IPA choice because this particular batch was cloudier than recent versions so it was a great way to show everyone the turbid beers all the nerds are chasing this days. The most common reaction I got from people was that it was scary that this beer was 10.5% abv because it was so smooth and easy to drink.
Yeti - Yeti, oh, my dear friend Yeti. On the one hand this was a lazy choice because I've used it before but on the other you can never go wrong with the Yeti. It's always a conversation starter for talk about aging beer and starting a cellar. The Yeti I brought was about 3 months old which was perfect to let some of the hop bitterness mellow out but still relatively fresh for a stout. The long and short, even those who didn't really like stouts or dark beers were a fan of this beer. There are four other versions of this beer available as well and as I write this I'm almost certain I haven't had all of them so I'm adding that to my to-do list ASAP.
It's no going to be a surprise for y'all but I did bring a fresh Heady Topper for the guest of honor as well and being the humble man he is he actually shared it was anyone who was willing to give it a try. He still ended up with a good 3+ ounce pour which is more than enough to appreciate this great beer. This is always a great beer to share with people because it is so delicious and can really open people's eyes to what craft beer can beer.