Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thirsty for 30: A Beer Tasting Birthday

Y'all, Russell turned 30 this past week.  I seriously can't believe I am old enough to be married to a 30 year old!  I remember when I couldn't imagine being 30 and how I couldn't possibly be in a relationship with someone who was 30 because we obviously would have nothing in common and wouldn't be able to relate (I'm pretty sure I was like 25 when I said that).  Well, I guess the truth is that I'm almost 30 myself and 30 isn't so old and foreign anymore!

Before we go on to checking out the birthday party, I have to say I am so proud of Russell, where he has been, where he is going and who is has become and is becoming.  30 is a really cool milestone (much cooler than 21) and I think Russell couldn't represent 30 better.  He is loving his job, we are settling in and we might even see being "real adults" peeking at us around the corner.  30 certainly sounds adult, right?

Ok, enough about that and on to the party!

I wanted Russell's birthday to be really special for him.  I knew he would just be meeting new people at work and this would likely be the first major party at our new home.  I love for my parties to be casual and comfortable yet well planned and put together.  I came up with beer tasting because I thought Russell would love it with all of his beer snobbery and it'd be a great way to mingle and learn about something new with new friends.  I think (I hope) I succeeded.

Not to brag (ok, I'm bragging) but I'm pretty sure this was the best party I've ever thrown.  Unfortunately we had a HORRIBLE rain and windstorm that began about an hour before the party started so turn out was a bit lower than expected.  Fortunately, I LOVED the crew we had!

Before I go any further, I need to give a special shout out to SaucyPants, Stylish Printable Parties.  Kristi Murphy was AMAZING to work with and has beautiful style that meshed perfectly with mine.  I'm pretty sure we're best friends who haven't actually met...just emailed a lot.  Kristi, your decor made the party casually beautiful!

The next shout out goes to my friend, Kate Spencer.  Her amazing photography skills made my food and decor look super yummy and recorded our party so that we can remember it forever!  Check Kate out.  She takes beautiful photos for engagements, weddings, babies, and parties!

And also very importantly, thanks to my helpers, Ashley-Brooke Holdaway, Kate Spencer, Mom, Dad, Fran (MIL) and Rusty (FIL), David Spencer and Russell.  There is absolutely NO WAY this party would have been ready to go on time without you all jumping in to help execute the plans.  Ashley-Brooke, your crafting/carpentry skills were amazing and your calm spirit kept me from freaking out all day on Friday.  Kate, your doodle skills, photography and grilled cheese focus and efficiency was awesome.  Mom, Dad, Fran and Rusty thanks for dropping your bags and rolling your sleeves up and diving into cooking, picking up, sharpening pencils, and taking out trash.  David had no idea I was going to bark orders his way and Russell did an awesome job setting out the beers and sodas and popping the tops :) This truly was an all hands on deck event and I appreciate you all!

Ok, back to the beginning.  Once deciding on the beer tasting, I wanted to make sure my food made sense with my beer and food choices.  While I love beer and I love food, I haven't spent a lot of time intentionally researching and remembering food and beer pairings.  I spent about a week working on the menu.  I used this chart developed by the Beer Association as well as Beer Advocate along with others to create it.

I used Paperless Post to send out invitations.  I highly recommend this electronic (and soon to be paper) invitation service.  Their organization and recording program is outstanding and I love their invites.  They are beautiful and classy!

Alright, here are the pictures:

These were taken by Kate Spencer Photography

From top left moving clockwise: We used 2.5 oz shot glasses that were shaped like pilsners for tasting glasses.  Oatmeal raisin cookies, goat cheese with fig preserves (thanks to my grandmother for making those).  Meatball burgers and an assortment of beers.  Buffalo chicken poppers.  Wedding cake cupcakes.

From top left going clockwise: It's not a birthday party in 2012 without a birthday bunting!  The starting table of the tasting.  Ashely-Brooke made these great "clotheslines" to hold category signs.  The beer list was made into a take home sheet where notes could be written on the back.  Rating cards were placed by each beer with user-friendly rating categories.  Category signs were placed over the top of each beer with descriptions of the beer type.  Oh, and we used chalk cloth as a table cloth (I'll be using this frequently, it was awesome!).  It erases easily and makes for really cute decorating.

Beginning at the top left and going clockwise: Notice we also included natural sodas to change things up and provide options for designated drivers and non-drinkers.  Gruyere cheese with lavash crackers and the yummiest chocolate coconut bark.  Grilled pepperjack with jalepenos.  Brussel sprouts with bacon.

Mom improvising with the grill pan because it was raining too hard to use the grill.  My awesome chalkboard :)

on the left going down: chocolate coconut bark, pulled pork tacos with homemade tacos, avacado, cabbage and sirachi, brussel sprouts and bacon.  On the right: cheese tortellini with bratwurst and mild cheddar

Thanks to Summer for these pics!

Thanks Rusty for these:

A little Kinect cheering break...David is a natural

Thanks again to everyone who came and celebrated Russell!!  It was the perfect start to 30!  Next post: The menu!


  1. what an AMAZING party!! way to go hostess-with-the-mostess!! so impressed. i know russell LOVED it!! :) wish we could have been there! xoxoxox

  2. Thanks Emily! Wish you could've been here too! Miss you!

  3. It's good to know that you know which was the best beer party you had, Katie. That's the kind of habit one should have to be able to throw a one heck of a party, you know. The kitchen looks so clean and elegant, by the way.

    1. I definitely agree with Corey. Do not leave those containers or pitchers out in the open or someone might spike them with something. We don't want our beers to do something else other than to get us drunk, you know. :)

    2. Ouch! That's the kind of accident that would waste a lot of beer you know. When it comes to beer tasting parties, don't serve the beer too cold. Otherwise, the flavors will not be appreciated and enjoyed fully.