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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
Belgian pale
American porter
Barrel-aged barleywine

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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      2 Replies
        1. re: jpc8015

          I agree with this order, too. Personally, high hops strip my palate a bit, so it's better to have that right before the porter/barleywine in order to let the BPA and sour shine.

        2. 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?

          1. At work? Where do I get a job like that?

            1. Do you know what the exact beers are?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chinon00

                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

                1. re: Josh

                  That order is fine. If the sour was very sweet like a dessert lambic I'd finish w/ it but it appears to be a summer fruit beer.

                  1. re: Josh

                    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.

                    1. re: Fig Newton

                      I've had it a couple of times now and really like it. That and #1 are my favorites so far, though I am excited to try whatever it is they're doing with the loquats.

                    2. re: Josh

                      I think you've nailed the tasting order perfectly. That's a tasting I think I'd really enjoy.

                  2. I generally like your approach with a few optional arrangements:

                    1: Of the Knee Deep and the RR Damnation, whichever is "lighter" on your palate should be second, the other third.

                    2: Re: Porter. Even great porters can be acquired tastes, and so-so porters can just be off-putting. I'd pour this in smallish glasses with extra fill available for those who like it. Reasoning here is that you don't want the porter to de-rail your tasting. I know, I should speak kindly about all beer styles but porter is an edgy style that alot of brewmasters don't do well... and so-so examples can hit your palate like you're standing next to a hot tar laying machine on the highway. That's an abrupt switch from Belgian pale to porter... ideally I'd like to see a mellow stout in between the pale and the porter b/c the porter would not be such a deviation in taste following a stout.

                    Otherwise I can't wait, when's the tasting? :)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                      Damnation is definitely "lighter" on the palate. I think it's a nice lead, especially if the audience may not be accustomed to the diversity of beer styles (don't know if they are or not).

                      WRT the porter, I can't think of anything about Payback Porter that seems edgy to me. (Actually, aside from historical usages of the terms, I'm unsure what the distinction between porters and stouts is in general, but that's another topic.)

                      Anyway, I think the Damnation, #3, Citra, Payback, Barleywine order sounds good, although I haven't had Moylan's Barleywine (Old Blarney?).

                      1. re: eethan

                        Yeah, Old Blarney. Forgot that was the name.

                        1. re: eethan

                          Tasting went quite well. If you can make it to Healthy Spirits to pick up one of those barleywines I'd say it's worth your while.

                          I didn't realize this when I selected it, but it picked up some brett from the barrels. At room temp it made for a pretty fascinating flavor profile. Brett dryness off the bat, followed by a nice malty finish. Very interesting and unlike anything else I've tried.

                          Surprisingly the Almanac #3 was the big hit of the evening. Didn't expect so many newbies to take to a sour like that.

                          1. re: Josh

                            "Surprisingly the Almanac #3 was the big hit of the evening. Didn't expect so many newbies to take to a sour like that."

                            That's because it is good.