Belly up to the bar with these simple beer-tasting projects made from shipping pallets and old wood.
On-tap selections await tasting in a keg holder built from salvaged pallets, with taps and tap handles from KegWorks.com.
To make the keg stand, Narvas and Andrew harvested planks of wood from several pallets they salvaged from wholesale warehouses. They’ve built so many things from this free source that they have several locations to visit—all with the owners’ permissions, of course—when they need materials.
The secret to this assembly is to select pallets that use woods of the same thickness. The finished front of the stand is on the left. One of the side pieces is under construction on the right. It’s a simple structure of planks on three crosspieces for each façade.
The two sides are attached to the front so that the other elements can be assembled in place and tested.
The planks for the surface of the stand are attached to crosspieces as well so they can be removed as one piece when the stand is disassembled. We opted for a 40-inch surface height, which Andrew decided was the right height for leaning on a bar.
Narvas measures and cuts the trim pieces and drills holes for the assembly screws. Everything is tapped into place for a snug fit.
The finished stand holds two standard-size kegs.
When all the pieces are completed, including the top that attaches to the back of the stand, Narvas gives everything a coat of stain. The variation of woods will show through but the stain gives the whole assembly a more finished and cohesive look.
With all the joins held together with wood screws, the keg stand comes apart for travel and reassembles easily at the party site. The final finish is drilling the holes in the top piece for the keg taps and tap handles.
The stand’s battery-operated “CHEERS” sign came from Target in a brass finish. After removing the bulbs, we plugged the holes (we just used small balls of paper) and sprayed it with an iron oxide paint to give it a rusted look. When dry, we removed the plugs and replaced the bulbs before hanging.
On the keg stand, an old Coca-Cola bottle opener and antique cast-iron match holder teamed up to open beer bottles and catch the caps.
On the opposite side of the stand, a handy hook holds a bar towel ready to mop up any spills.
With only two beers on tap, we needed to round out our tasting selections. Bottled beer chills out in an ice-filled galvanized-steel washtub from the early 1900s.
Narvas made simple tasting flights sized to fit our small tasting glasses.
All you need to make tasting flights for four glasses are 1×4-inch pine boards, cardboard, pencil, a jigsaw, a drill and doorknob bit, sandpaper or sanding block, wood stain and a brush.
Trace the outline of your board on the cardboard then, draw the design of the tasting flight onto the cardboard within that outline. Place one of the glasses on the cardboard and trace around the bottom of the glass four times equidistantly along the flight design. Cut out the outline of the flight and place the cut cardboard on the wood board. Trace the outline of the flight onto the board.
With the jigsaw, cut the board, following the outline.
Place the doorknob bit over the each of glass tracings and drill holes through the board.
Sand the board, especially around all the fresh cuts. Wipe away any wood dust and stain the board. Repeat to make as many flights as you’ll need for your guests.
Bottom’s up! Identify beer choices by serving in glasses imprinted with chalkboard squares from KegWorks.com. Create the same effect by applying hobby-store chalkboard labels to clear glasses with wide mouths.
Keep the tasting process organized with paper placemats that include space for rating beers. Ours are from KegWorks.com, but you can make your own versions from cardstock and beer graphics found on the web. Encourage lively debate by asking for feedback.
When making the tasting flights, Narvas brilliantly spaced the glasses so they would fit perfectly over the rating list for each beer.
Hosting a casual beer-tasting party lets you try a wide range of flavors and learn what you like.
Help your pals find new faves by picking beers from different flavor categories (liquor-store staffers can help you.) Pour about four ounces per “taste.” Rest glasses flat on the table while pouring to boost foam; that’s what lets the aroma come through.
Follow these three steps to give each brew its due:
Look: Raise the glass of beer in front of you and observe its color, consistency and head. Don’t backlight it with direct light as this will affect its true color. Agitate the liquid gently in the glass to pull out aromas, stimulate carbonation and test how well it retains the head.
Smell: This is about 90% of the tasting right here. Take a couple of quick sniffs through your nose, then through your mouth only. Swirl again to release more bouquet.
Taste: Take a sip. Roll it around your entire palate before swallowing. Breathe out during the tasting. Note the flavors and try to detect levels of bitterness, sweet or salty notes, and acidity.
Ice-cold beer tends to mask some flavors, so try tasting the beer after it warms a bit, too.
© Caruth Studio