I'm going to be hosting a small tasting at work and will have the following styles:
Sour blonde with fruit
Hoppy extra pale ale
Each will be paired with a small bite of food, plus there will be other palate cleansers available. I'm considering using the above tasting order because I can't think of where else to put the sour. The barleywine is especially massive and I think the sour would be weird at the end. My hope is by having it at the beginning the subsequent lighter ales will help reset people's palates.
I know some people that do tastings in order of bitterness. I am not sure if that would work for you, but you might consider it.
I agree that the barleywine would go last and the porter second to last. Personally, I would go with the Belgian pale first, the sour second, then the hoppy extra pale.
Now just wait for the whole world to come and tell me I am wrong.
By the way, I would go for an impressive cheese display with your tasting.
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to things tasting, but I'd almost consider going with the sour after the Belgian pale and before the porter - sort of a palate cleanser if you will.
Is it possible that the Belgian pale might be somewhat overwhelmed by the hops in the extra pale ale, or do you want to highlight the contrast there?
Yeah, I left that out because they're pretty regional in terms of distribution (most of them, anyway).
The beers are:
Russian River Damnation (Belgian pale)
Almanac Farmers Reserve #3 (sour)
Knee-Deep Citra Extra Pale
Speakeasy Payback Porter
Moylan's Barleywine aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels
Check my notes on the Almanac thread about the Reserve #3. It's quite fresh strawberry-ish IMO. I think it would go great with dry cheeses (I was going to say Manchego, but it's probably because I'm eating a piece now).
Edited to add: that's a great lineup! I wish I was going to be at that tasting.