How to Host a Beef Tasting with HB Beef
If there’s one thing we love at Hi Bräu, it’s experimenting. Hosting a beef tasting is the pinnacle
of that experimentation. For us as farmers, it’s the culmination of years of breeding decisions,
grazing management, and year-round care for our herd. Sure, you could host a wine tasting or
maybe a cheese tasting, but do those involve steak? We didn’t think so.
How does one hold a beef tasting, though? Well, it’s pretty simple. In this post, we’ll cover the basics, how to keep it fair and honest, and what you’ll need on hand to indulge in a gustatory journey through the world of beef.
First, you’ll need beef. Now of course we recommend Hi Bräu beef, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. Sure, it supports our family’s farm. Yes, it’s the best beef around. But the real reason? Convenience. Hi Bräu is the only farm we’ve found that produces multiple kinds of
beef, boxes them together, and then delivers it to your door in a ready to taste Beef Flight. You
can find our Beef Flight box at this link: Crafted Beef Flight
Though you can go crazy with your beef tasting (and we have), we recommend no more than a
dozen people. This makes it manageable and gives everybody more than just a nibble.
If you’ve purchased our Beef Flight, then you’ll be comparing three different cuts (at the time of
writing, this is Ribeye, Sirloin, and Ground Beef) of three different Crafted Breeds (currently 40
Month Live Aged Angus, Grain Finished Angus, and Grass Finished South Poll). You could also
build your own box at Hi Bräu Beef Co. and compare cuts (Chuck Roast vs. Sirloin Tip Roast vs.
Tri-Tip Roast) or you could get beef from different farms or the grocery store. You could
even compare cooking methods instead (reverse sear, smoked, chargrilled). Whatever you
choose, we recommend no more than four varieties at a time over two to three courses.
Example 1: Beef Flight
Round 1 - Ground Beef - Three varieties (40 mo. Live Aged Angus, Grain Finished Angus,
Grass Finished South Poll), same cooking method and seasoning for all.
Round 2 - Sirloin - Three varieties (same as above), same cooking method and seasoning for
Round 3 - Ribeye - Three varieties (same as above), same cooking method and seasoning for
Example 2: Cuts
Round 1 - Cuts: Picanha Steak, Flat Iron Steak, Skirt Steak, Denver Steak, and Flank Steak.
Now before you get to the fun part, you need a way to keep up with your experiment. We like to
use a “Tasting Sheet” for each round. Though you can get pretty complicated, the simplest way
is to have headings for each tasting category:
1. Texture (soft, bouncy, firm, chewy, tough)
2. Mouthfeel (oily, juicy, moist, dry, like sawdust)
3. Flavor Notes (sweet, robust, earthy, roasty, grassy, gamey, metallic, rich, smokey)
4. Overall Rating
So now you have your meat and your Tasting Sheet so it’s time to get to work on the cooking.
We’ll have another post coming soon discussing how to cook a Hi Bräu Steak, but for now,
here’s the short version:
1. Bring meat to room temperature.
2. Assign each piece of meat a letter to identify them when you’re blind tasting. Assign that
letter to a certain part of your grill and cutting board so that you won’t get them mixed up
later. We like to use small chalkboards but sticky notes will work just fine.
3. Season each piece the same. We recommend kosher salt and coarse ground pepper.
4. Cook each piece using the same method while still adjusting the cooking time for the
thickness of the meat. Try to get each piece to that same level of doneness.
By this point, you’re staring at several hot, delicious, juicy pieces of meat that are labeled by
letters. Make sure everybody has their sheet and dig in! Try to cut each piece the same. If you
want to really go all in, we recommend green apple slices to cleanse the palate between
samples. We also suggest bourbon between courses but there’s no scientific reason for that.
Once you’ve made it through a course, compare notes and reveal what each piece of beef was
and take a minute to discuss. One of the greatest things we’ve learned through beef tasting is
that’s there’s rarely an unanimous favorite. In fact, quite the opposite. Though we often see a
couple of pieces rise to the top, there’s always a piece that most people don’t like but
somebody has as their favorite. It just goes to show that there’s tons of diversity both in the beef you’re sampling and in the palates of the tasters.
As you enjoy your tasting, make sure to tag us on social media using the @hibraubeefco
handle. We love to keep up and hear the results!