1 Beer tasting parties are the new thing and they're so easy to pull together.
2 This great party table is simple to set up and it has a fun, sophisticated bar feel.
3 The table is covered with blackboard oilcloth and you can write food descriptions right on its surface!
4 For a beer tasting party, it's important to have a variety of flavors and to serve them in order of intensity. These numbered coasters not only identify the beers, but also serve as guides from subtle to more robust flavors.
5 Each place setting includes a score card so guests can rate and remember their favorites.
6 For lighter, pale ales, we chose three American brews: Southhampton Publick House Double White Ale, Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Ale, and Lagunitas Pils.
7 Amber ales are medium-bodied beers. Among our selection was Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend, which is very malty with notes of cherry.
8 Amber beers have both sweet and bitter flavors, which is what makes them pair well with our Smoky Parsnip Crisps.
9 Darker beers include stouts and porters. The smokiness of Stone Brewing Company Stone Smoked Porter goes well with savory foods. End your night with Brookyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout, which is almost like a dessert beer.
10 Setting up the table for the segment
11 Matt Lauer couldn't help but sneak a Smoky Parsnip Crisp before we started taping.
12 I joked that it might be a little early in the morning for a beer tasting, but no one seemed to mind!
13 For a new twist on the typical buffalo chicken wing, I showed Matt how to make Roasted Buffalo Shrimp. Large shrimp are tossed with lemon zest, garlic, celery seeds, paprika, cayenne, salt, honey, and oil.
14 The shrimp are roasted in a 450º oven for five minutes. The dip is sour cream, lemon juice, celery leaves, and salt. Serve the shrimp with cucumbers, celery, and fennel.
15 I showed Ann how to make cocktail meatballs, using ground beef chuck and ground pork mixed with white bread, milk, thinly sliced pancetta, onion, and egg yolk.
16 They're seasoned with salt and pepper, smoked paprika, and fresh thyme. I like to roll them in a breadcrumb and flour mixture before putting them in the frying pan, which gives the exterior a light crust.
17 Lightly fry the meatballs in a large skillet with olive oil until brown on all sides and then bake in a 300º oven until cooked through.
18 Serve the meatballs warm with toothpicks.
19 The secret of these bacon-blue cheese sandwiches is sweet onion jam, which you can buy pre-made or make yourself. We used the Beekman 1802 recipe found here:
20 Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a hot pan and then cook 3 cups of chopped onions until caramelized. Add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and cook down until thick, about an hour. Then add 1/4 cup maple syrup and cook for another hour.
21 Layer white or sourdough bread with the onion jam, blue cheese, and cooked Irish or Canadian bacon.
22 Melt butter on a griddle or a heavy skillet and brown both sides of the sandwiches. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until cheese is melted.
23 Al was a huge fan of these sandwiches!
24 Most of these recipes finish in the oven, so you can complete setting up and greet your guests while everything is still cooking.
25 Salty snacks have long been a bar companion to beer and we made Smoky Parsnip Crisps for something tasty, but a little different.
26 Using a vegetable peeler, I showed Savannah how to shave long strips from parsnips. Heat 3-inches of vegetable oil in a pot to 365º and then fry in small batches.
27 Savannah expected these to take a good deal of time, but it's quite fast - only 45 seconds to fry them golden brown.
28 Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.
29 Sprinkle with the same smoky paprika used on the Roasted Buffalo Shrimp (also called pimentón) before serving.
30 For a look reminiscent of British pubs, we lined our serving dish with these London Times Tissue Liners, printed with food-safe soy ink.
31 And that's how you 'raise the bar' by throwing a beer party!