Skip to main content

How to Host a Bottle Share: 5 Tips for Planning Your First Beer Tasting

beer flight tasting types
Natalie Jeffcott / Getty Images

With thousands of amazing breweries spread across the globe already open (with more on the horizon) and a constantly expanding range of styles from which to choose, it’s impossible to drink all of the world’s great beers. Attending beer festivals or ordering flights from breweries are great ways to expand your knowledge and palate. These opportunities provide several small pours of beer instead of the traditional method of ordering full-size glasses. More variety for the same quantity, if you will.

An alternative to festivals and flights is organizing a bottle share, otherwise known as your own mini beer festival.

Bottle shares socially engage your local beer community (and help make room in your beer cellar). Many craft beer lovers become collectors, hoarding away favorite bottles for aging or special occasions. Calling up a few like-minded friends to engage in a weekend beer tasting is a perfect excuse to intermingle and tick a few new beers off your own must-try list, as every attendee brings some of their own personal stock to pour.

If you’re interested in organizing your own bottle share, here are five tips for planning your first event.

Make It a Party

While your initial instinct may be to keep your tasting group small, expanding the number of participants means that you’ll have more beers to try. Different attendees will have different passions. That forces you out of your comfort zone as you try beers that you typically might not search out on your own. A larger group of attendees also increases the number of rarities or beers acquired from regional travel and trades.

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration

Drink water. Drink lots of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water for every sample pour. This staves off the symptoms of dehydration such as headaches and stomach issues, as well as the ever-dreaded next-day hangover.

In addition to water, palate-cleansing snacks like unsalted crackers and mild fruit allow you to taste the next beer with a fresh tongue and something solid in your stomach.

Mix It Up

Keep things interesting by cultivating a bottle list that spans styles and geography. As the organizer, ask everyone what they plan on bringing in advance. That way you can help prevent duplication of bottles or too many beers representing the same style or the same brewery. The exception to this rule would be planning a themed party, such as Russian Imperial Stouts or beers from Oklahoma, for example.

Sequence is Important

When determining the drinking order for the beers, think about each beer as a song in an epic playlist. While traditional logic may indicate you should save the “best” or rarest for last, the fact of the matter is that your taste buds aren’t going to be as fresh at the end of the night. Start off with something exciting, put another big beer in the middle and, yes, finish strong. In between those key bottles, mix up the styles to keep everyone guessing.

Slow and Steady

A bottle share is not a race. Depending on the number of bottles being shared and the size of the pours, you will probably want to allot the majority of a day to slowly drinking through your supply. The goal here is to taste and enjoy these different beers. You do that by sipping slowly, taking notes and discussing the flavors with your peers.

When all is done, be sure to say thank you to both the newbie who brought a shelf warmer and the seasoned collector who busted out a rare, 10-year barleywine. We all have to start somewhere, and bottle shares are a great way to grow your local group and expand everyone’s knowledge.

Article originally published September 17, 2016.

Lee Heidel
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew/Drink/Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the…
Best Blackstone Prime Day deals
A man using the Blackstone 36-inch Gas Griddle Cooking Station in a yard.

Every family should have a reliable grill, especially those who love hosting outdoor parties and large gatherings. Prime Day is an excellent time to buy one, particularly if you want a Blackstone grill. You'll be able to enjoy huge savings with Blackstone Prime Day deals, and we've gathered our favorite offers here. You need to be quick in making your purchase though, as there's a chance that the discounts on these Blackstone deals don't last until the end of the shopping event.
Best Blackstone grill Prime Day deal
Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle -- $124, was $147

If you’re keen to cook outdoors more but you’re also planning on traveling a lot, you need the Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle. It’ll work well in your yard, but it’s also portable enough that you can take it with you while you camp and travel on many different adventures, hence the name "adventure ready."

Read more
The most valuable beer brand of this year comes from Mexico
Mexico's Corona is heading the charts once again
Beer bottles

Beer might be variously claimed by Belgium, Britain, the U.S., and plenty more countries, but the home of the world's most valuable beer brand of this year is in fact Mexico. According to a new report, Mexico's universally beloved Corona Extra brand is the top of the beer earning charts for 2024, and is also the fastest growing beer brand globally.

The report from Brand Finance (via Vinepair) says that Corona has reclaimed its spot at the top, dethroning Heineken which booted it out last year. And it's not the only popular Mexican beer: four other Mexican brands (Modelo Especial, Tecate, Victoria, and Dos Equis XX) also made it into the top 50 beer brands.

Read more
This new bourbon is finished in rum barrels for a tropical fruit flavor
Old Forester's latest expression in the 117 Series is its Rum Finish

A new release from Kentucky brand Old Forester brings together two delicious spirits, bourbon and rum, into one bottle. The latest release of the brand's 117 series, which is a set of limited expressions which debuted in 2021, is a Rum Finish which makes use of rum barrels like those which have historically been found all along the Ohio River due to the commercial trade there.

The new expression is the brand's classic bourbon that has gone through an unusual final step before being released to the public: it has been finished in rum barrels. These barrels have held rum for at least four years, so they impact a distinct flavor to the bourbon and add notes of tropical fruits, coconut, and custard. The result is a 95-proof bourbon with enhanced fruity flavors and a long, dry spiced finish.

Read more