Bottle shares are the best part about the craft beer world. Brewers bust their buns for terrible pay all so we can crack a couple of bottles open with pals and spend a night tasting the brewer's hard work in the comfort of our own homes. These fancy BYOB gatherings are what turn this hobby into a lifestyle.
Yes, these affairs are casual and friendly and aren't really that different from your typical kick-back, but the act of trying multiple rare beers or even sharing a personal favorite, only adds to the beauty of the industry. But as fun as these events can be, they can also carry an air of pretension, making them borderline bourgeois and intimidating for newcomers. So, to calm your fears and prepare you for your next RSVP, here are some do's and dont's of bottle shares, an etiquette guide, if you will, to help coach you through your first share. Hey, maybe you'll even end up hosting your own.
DO: Bring a craft beer This should go without saying, but just in case, don't be the guy or gal who brings a pack of PBR tall boys to a bottle share. Everyone else has made the effort to bring a beer they truly want to share with everyone else. Bringing a pack of macro beer will only prove your lack of interest.
DON'T: Bring too many friends along One of the nice things about bottle shares is that's they're a few steps above a kegger, and yes, although there will typically be a lot of beer present; there's seldom a duplicate bottle. In order for everyone to get more than half an ounce of each beer, there can't be too many people hanging around. An average attendance should be at least 4 and no more than 10, so don't go bringing your whole gang without clearing it with the host. But have no fear, the usual response will be positive with a humble request for more beer.
DO: Bring your own glass Try not to assume your host will provide you the proper glassware for tasting. We all have a friend who fills his cupboards with nothing but mugs and plastic cups from the $0.99 store. Don't hesitate to come prepared with your own glass, usually a snifter or tulip glass. Even if your host does offer an assortment of proper beer-drinking glassware, bringing your own ensures that your drunken grip won't break his €7 goblet from Belgium as the night progresses.
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DON'T: Pretend you know everything Even if you feel like you've been around the craft beer block, there will always be someone who knows more than you do. Any good bottle share host will either be fairly educated in all things beer or will at least invite someone who is. The idea behind bottle shares is to explore and educate yourself on the beer at hand. Don't come in thinking you have mastered the science behind brewing and begin throwing out words like "astringent" and "diacetyl" because you saw it on Beer Advocate once. And don't be afraid to ask questions to better educate yourself on different styles and tasting notes, learning is fun after all.
DO: Have fun And finally, relax and remember that you're going to spend the day with friends, and try to make some new ones. I mean, you're all drinking a few great beers, what else do you need?