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How To: Host a Beer + Bourbon Tasting Bash

My husband Brett turned 32 in January (??!), and for the second year in a row, our plans for FootGolf got rained out — boo!  C’mon, when does it ever rain here?!

With the stormy forecast looming in the near distance, I knew we had to switch horses — and fast.  With 4 days to spare, we created a birthday bash from two of Brett’s favorite things: beer + bourbon.

Here are some of our favorite details that we incorporated to pull the theme together:

Beer Blind Taste Testing

It’s simple: go to your local liquor mega-store (like Total Wines or BevMo), and pick out 6 different six-packs (or the large single beers, depending on the # of people in attendance).


Put one beer from each six-pack in a paper bag, labeled with a number.  Don’t forget to tie the top, so that no one can see what they are tasting!  Place the beers in order from light to dark on a butcher paper-wrapped table, and switch out the beers when they become empty.

Beer Tasting Cards

I downloaded these beer tasting cards from Real Simple, and printed them out so there were 4 cards to a sheet of paper.  Cut them out, punch a hole in the corner, and bind stacks of six with tiny binder rings (available at office supply stores) or a loop of baker’s twine.


Guests will love rating their own beers, and choosing their favorites.  At the end, when the beers are revealed, they can add the beer names to the top of each card to remember the brews they loved!

Don’t forget to choose a few local beers!  We grabbed some from 805-native brewery Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and even grabbed a growler from Ladyface Ale House!


Bourbon Tasting for Beginners

On the other side of the table, we featured three different bourbons, which were recommended by friends and other bourbon aficionados.  We placed a card next to each bourbon, with tasting notes for color, aroma, taste, and finish.

IMG_3823 IMG_3825

Also, we offered slices of citrus (lemon, lime, and orange) alongside the bourbon, which lent themselves to different tasting notes when paired with each liquor.

Themed Menu

Because this was a beer + bourbon tasting party, I wanted the menu to reflect the two main stars of the event.  Also, I wanted to choose food that was easy to prepare for a large group, and was a little like classed-up bar food.  Here’s what we served:


Beer cheese fondue with pretzel nugget dippers [make your life easier, and just buy the pretzel nuggets at Costco!]

Popcorn and chips

Veggies with homemade hummus



Buffalo Chicken Sliders on Pretzel Buns

Ham and Swiss Sliders with Glaze

Teriyaki Chicken Meatball Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls

Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken Wings


A Cake Made from Scratch [trust me on this one]

Now, I usually don’t bother with this, but they don’t exactly offer Guinness Cake as a boxed cake mix option, so I had to break my rule… but I’m sure glad I did!

With much less effort than I expected, I pumped out a Guinness Bundt Cake with Bourbon Ganache [see what I did there?? beer AND bourbon!].  I used this recipe for guidance, but simplified it a bit.  It was soooo delicious, and a definite party hit!

Friendly Competition [with prizes]

Guests were told that they could also bring a beer or bourbon to enter in a separate competition, which we called the People’s Choice award.  A blind taste test and vote was conducted by all guests at the party, and a winner was selected in the beer + bourbon categories.



The winner of the beer category took home a six pack variety pack of the beers featured in the blind taste test.  The winner of the bourbon category took home a $20 gift card to BevMo!


I’m pretty sure that all of our guests had a blast, and we even ended the night with a pretty intense dance party.  Success?  I’d like to think so.


#bottomsup #beerandbourbon #brettsbeerandbourbonbirthdaybash


Nicole {LL805}

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1 Comment

  1. Ashten @ Just Go Left
    4 years ago

    This is such an incredible idea! You pulled it together beautifully!

    It was so fun to celebrate early with Brett at Figueroa Mountain Brewery in December. That place had some delicious beer!


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