We’ve been writing about winter seasonals a lot recently. And for good reason: A) it’s winter; B) winter beers are delicious. We’ve sampled a good number of them here in the office but this past weekend some friends and I decided to take it a step further—a blind taste test seemed like the only way to pick the best winter brew. I won’t disclose our “winner,” because I’m pretty sure drunken beer tasting is extremely subjective—subject to the whims of the participants. I have a “new favorite beer” almost weekly and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this regard.
Anyway, if you and your crew are interested in finding the best winter seaonsal (or if you need an excuse to sit with your pals, share some laughs and get shit-housed on well made beer), here’s how it works:
1) Round up the beers.
Go to several of the fancy grocery stores in town to ensure proper variety. We hit at least four retailers, including The Bend Brew Shop. What to pick out? It’s up to you. We purposely chose beers from manufactures we liked (I mean, if this is a test for the best, why screw around with mediocre beer?). Pretty sure we dropped a couple hundred beans for about 12 people. Another $50 or so on pizza, crackers, cheese, etc.
2) Arrange for a master of ceremonies.
Preferably, someone that can read, write and count to ten. Such a person must not be tempted to drink too much, be able to accurately record the votes of the participants (more on that below), and be able to pour beer.
3) Taste the beers!
Ideally, in a room where you can’t see what the master of ceremonies is pouring. You have a left-hand beer and a right-hand beer. Keep the pours small. This will rankle some, at first, but everyone eventually gets their due. Look, smell, taste, and confer with your comrades. Don’t say what you think it might be. Also avoid strong-arming others into agreement. Try to keep the comments on the beer itself. Having a swill bucket for “throw-aways” is good too (stops you from getting prematurely wasted and you can probably convince someone to take sips out of it later, which is funny).
Use the hand attached to your arm. The master of ceremonies will record the results that correlate with a specific beer (which only she will know). Hold several rounds so beers can get voted on while others get voted out. Declare “halftime,” have snacks, stretch your belly and get outside for a minute. Group walks around the block are good, as long as no one in your party is the type who would vandalize the neighbors’ holiday decorations.
5) Reveal the winner.
This will elicit a series of cheers and boos. High-five your team and drink some water. Nice work.