Want to get suitably wasted with your friends under the pretense of a sophisticated and genteel experience? Welcome to the world of virtual beer tasting!
You don’t need a bumper pack of expensive, assorted beers and you don’t need a self-proclaimed ‘beer sommelier’. All you need is a few choice beers, some mates and the software to bring it all together.
With that in mind, and with a virtual Christmas around the corner, check out our 5-step guide to hosting the perfect and free virtual beer tasting night!
Your Guide to Hosting a Virtual Beer Tasting at Home
What is a Virtual Beer Tasting?
Essentially, virtual beer tasting is a social lifeline in these dark, distanced times.
It basically works like this:
- Buy a load of beer
- Get on Zoom
- Drink and discuss
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, like a fine wine tasting, you can actually get super nuanced into the flavours, aromatics, mouthfeel, appearance and bottling of each beer before sharing your opinions with your co-tasters on Zoom.
Here’s some of the stuff you might expect to hear at a virtual beer tasting:
- “This Viennese wheat beer has an earthy aroma”
- “The Ecuadorian pilsner is stodgy, but would accompany the bright Danish lambic for sure”
- “Can we stop talking about beer and just drink it please?”
Of course, the absolute main priority of any virtual beer tasting is that you’re doing it together. Activities like this have proven themselves to be of paramount importance in pandemics, especially around the holidays.
How to Host a Virtual Beer Tasting at Home
So here’s 5 steps to a free (except the beers) and self-run tasting sesh. Follow this to become the accredited beer baron at any tasting night in the future!
Step #1 – Buy your Beers
The only part of your virtual beer tasting that requires any financial investment is the beers themselves.
As the host, it’s your responsibility to choose the beers and to ensure that everyone can buy them, and if required, get them delivered to their house.
There are two ways to do this:
Option 2 provides you with the option to select a variety pack, meaning you don’t need to do any of the thinking when it comes to choosing the beers. Also, online retailers usually give you the opportunity to ‘share your cart‘, which allows you to invite your co-tasters to buy the same beers at the click of a button.
Step #2 – Get on Zoom and Break the Ice
With the beers arrived and the date and time set, the preparations are complete! Wait with great anticipation for the night, and when it arrives, get into a group Zoom call with all your tasters.
Now, you can either delve straight into the online beer tasting, or you can start things off with a few ice breakers. In our opinion, the latter is a great way to get the fun and creativity flowing before cracking open the cans.
Need some inspiration? We’ve got a great list of 10 ice breakers that you can use for free online!
Step #3 – Start Tasting and Polling
With everybody suited up for the waterfall of beer coming their way, it’s time to get started!
For each beer you try, it’s a good idea to have an online poll to gather everyone’s opinions on the look, aroma and taste.
In fact, we think it’s so crucial that we’ve made one for you! The below template from AhaSlides is completely free to use and to adapt to your audience, providing there’s fewer than 8 (it’s not much more expensive for more!)
Free Virtual Beer Tasting Template
How it works…
- Click through the preview above and see if the template is suitable for your virtual beer tasting.
- If so, click on the ‘sign up’ button in the bottom-right corner.
- When prompted, make a free AhaSlides account in less than 3 minutes.
- On the AhaSlides dashboard, select the ‘Virtual Beer Tasting’ presentation.
- Under ‘Result’ in the top-right tab, click ‘clear data’ to remove the audience data already on the presentation.
- Change the template beer information to your own.
- Duplicate the slides depending on the amount of beers you are tasting.
- When it’s tasting time, get your tasters to enter the URL join code at the top of the slides into their address bar.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the free tools included in your tasting template:
Polls are great for gathering mass opinions about a beer. You can use these to ask about the aroma and flavour of the beer with a preset of multiple choice options.
You can choose to display polls as a donut chart (like in the image above), in a bar chart or in a pie chart.
A scales slide reveals mass opinions on a sliding scale; you can use them to ask for general opinions from 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, like in the example above.
Scales show you the pattern of opinions from your tasters, as well as the averages for each statement. It’s perfect for visualising the general views on aspects like appearance, taste, smell and preference.
3. Word Clouds
Word clouds reveal the most widely held opinions about the beer in question. With this slide, you can ask your tasters for a few one-word answers that they best think describes the beer.
The most popular words will appear at the centre in the largest text, while less popular words will appear on the fringes in smaller text.
4. Open-Ended Response Slides
An open-ended slide gives your tasters the freedom to be creative in their answering. Asking a simple question like ‘what does this beer remind you of?’ leaves a lot of room for surprising, thoughtful and hilarious answers.
Step #5 – Play some Games
The fact is that you’re going to be finishing all of the beers from the session. That means taking a sizable amount of time between slides to actually relish the beer properly.
With that in mind, you’re going to need some activities in between tastings to fill the time.
Idea #1 – Hold a Pub Quiz
Bring out that real pub atmosphere with a pub quiz – always easier to answer after a thorough beer tasting sesh!
Here’s a pub quiz we’ve cobbled together; all yours for free, of course!
A quiz on AhaSlides operates the same way as a presentation; it’s just more competitive. Once you’ve copied it to your account, you can invite your guests via the URL join code at the top of the presentation.
Pro tip: Make your own beer quiz! You can test your tasters on the knowledge that they (should have) accrued throughout the virtual beer tasting, including beer facts and flavours.
If you’re after more quizzes, we’ve got a massive selection in our free, premade quiz library.
Idea #2 – Throw a PowerPoint Party
Think PowerPoints are tedious? Well, they’re not after 8 Belgian beers!
Powerpoint parties are all the rage now, and they work like this:
- Before your virtual beer tasting session, get each of your tasters to make a brief presentation about something beer-related.
- Limit them to a certain amount of slides or give them a certain time limit to present their pres.
- When they’re suitably merry from the online beer tasting, get each person to present the presentation to the group.
- Use a scalesor multiple choice slide to award their presentation points out of 10.
Idea #3: Play Online Pictionary
One of the best things to come out of lock down was online Pictionary, in particular, a game called Drawful 2.
In Drawful 2, players take turns to draw on their phones the incredibly wacky concepts that come up on screen. When the drawings are revealed, each player must guess what the drawing is supposed to be from its hilariously primitive rendition.
A few rounds of this can contribute dozens of laughter-filled moments to your sesh.
4 Tips for Planning a Virtual Beer Tasting Sesh
We all want to make an impression as the host who nailed it. Plan your virtual beer tasting properly, and you might just cement that accolade for yourself.
- Arrange your beers – Lighter beers first and heavier beers later; that’s the golden rule of beer tasting. By ‘light’ and ‘heavy’, we’re talking about alcoholic content, hop content and flavour. It’s good to order your beers in this manner before you start, so that you can get the most out of each bottle.
- Choose between 5 and 7 beers – Of course, this depends on the average alcoholic content and the endurance of your tasters, but 5 to 7 is a decent ballpark to be aiming for. Any more that this and your tasters are not going to be able to tell the difference between their Mikkeller Brown and their Paulaner Dunkel (the fools!)
- Go with a theme – If you’re choosing the beers in your virtual beer tasting, you could opt for ones that follow a certain theme. A geographical theme (beers of Germany // beers of Sweden) is usually the frontrunner in these events, but types of beer (red ales // stouts // pilsners) is also a good one to go with.
- Order snacks – We all know drinking on an empty stomach is a no-no. You don’t want your virtual beer tasting to end prematurely because Kevin’s puking his guts up after round 3. Add some palate-cleansing snacks to your order to keep everyone in check.
The Perfect Free Tool to Accompany a Virtual Beer Tasting…
Gone are the days when we’d all be clamouring for voice over a Zoom call. Now, with AhaSlides, you can level the playing field, gather everyone’s opinions and host the best darn virtual beer tasting your mates have ever had the privilege to take part in.
And the best part is that you can do it all for free if you have 7 participants or less! It’s a one-time payment of $2.95 for up to 15 tasters and $6.95 for up to 30.
Check out AhaSlides for free, before committing to anything, by clicking the link below.
Feature image courtesy of The Manual