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Rhapsody in Brew

Martha Stewart Living, March 2012

When tasting beers, it's best to sample them in order of intensity, from subtlest to most intensely flavored. With that in mind, organize your selections into three flights -- light, amber, and dark -- and present them to guests one group at a time. Unless your friends include Homer Simpson, it's probably best to pour the beer into small glasses, dividing one bottle among two or three people.

1. Light

Though pale in color, these brews have a bright taste marked by citrus and floral notes. Effervescent Southampton Publick House Double White Ale is a more potent version of classic Belgian white. Tart, dry, and sparkling, Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Ale has a light caramel flavor. Lagunitas Pils is a fuller-bodied brew with a crisp finish.

2. Amber

This category of medium-bodied beers will appeal to those who enjoy the play of bitter and sweet flavors. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA is hoppy with a dry finish. Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend is malty with notes of cherry. Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale is a classic brown ale with a nice balance of hops and malt.

3. Dark

Robust, hearty brews will provide your tasting with a strong finale. Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout is like dessert for beer lovers, with a deep cocoa flavor. Stone Brewing Company Stone Smoked Porter pairs well with rich, savory food, thanks to its smoky undertones. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is frothy and bold.