This summer we had the joy of celebrating my husband’s milestone birthday – 40 years! We threw around a lot of possibilities for our theme, but in the end I knew it had to involve beer.
I mean, what 30-40 year old man isn’t into craft beer right now? And everything is better with bacon, right? That’s how we arrived at our Beer and Bacon Tasting 40th Birthday Party Theme, that I decided to call “Hops & Hogs.” Come on in, grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or ahem… a bottle of your favorite craft beer, and let me walk you through the party!
Beer and Bacon Tasting Party Theme & Invitations
Once I nailed down our Hops & Hogs theme, I created our party design and colors. I wanted a natural, rustic feel and decided to go with a simple color palette of greens, shades of browns and pops of gold. Rather than printed invitations this time, I opted for an Evite, knowing it was more likely to get a response from our group of friends.
Here’s a peek at the invite and party branding…
Beer and Bacon Tasting Party Decor
Since it was a guy’s birthday party after all, I kept the décor simple and used items we had around the house. I knew I wanted to use amber-colored beer bottles and growlers for my flower arrangements and chose simple flowers and greenery to evoke the feeling of hops and wheat and added pops of color with in-season yellow daisies.
If you don’t have unlabeled beer bottles or growlers, you can find some on Amazon here. I placed these on the feature table, the bacon tasting table, our main beer tasting table and in the guest bathroom. I love tying the theme of the party into unexpected places like the bathroom. It always delights and surprises!
I also utilized the multitude of beer signs and décor my husband had been collecting throughout the year. I added a mirrored “On Tap” sign to our Bacon Tasting Table, used unique bottle openers on our feature table and placed other brewery related items around the house.
And because I don’t think any feature table is complete without confetti, I added gold 40th Birthday confetti to the feature food table and beer tasting tables.
Beer and Bacon Tasting Party Food
Our party was in the evening (a 7:30pm start time), so we provided a light dinner. Sticking with our “Hog” theme, I opted for pulled pork sandwiches because they’re simple! Throw everything in the crockpot and you’re done – I didn’t want to tend to dinner when I knew I’d be serving beer!
I tried several other new recipes for this party as well and they were all a huge hit!
- Pimento Cheese Balls
- Bacon Wrapped Venison Bites (my husband adapted these from this recipe and they were amazing)
- Crack Dip with potato chips, celery, pretzels and carrots
- Bacon Jam
My personal favorite was probably the Bacon Jam, which I had intended to give out in small glass jars as favors, but unfortunately the batch I made didn’t go far enough and I ran out of time to triple it (which is what I would likely have needed to do).
Thankfully, when things like this happen, no one knows but you, so making an adjustment is no big deal! I served it with crackers and encouraged guests to add it to their pulled pork sandwiches – both delicious!
And of course no milestone birthday would be complete without a cake! My husband’s two loves (outside of his dear wife and kids of course) are beer and chocolate, so the decision for what type of cake was easy… chocolate and then more chocolate!
I was inspired by a cake I saw on Pinterest and after baking a four layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling between the layers, I iced it in chocolate and made a satin chocolate glaze to pour over the top of that – it looked decadent dripping down the sides! I added some of his favorite chocolate treats to the top like Oreos, pirouettes, Kit Kats, Hershey bars and Milky Ways.
Then I topped the cake with a sparkly gold “forty” I found at Hobby Lobby and sparkler candles I picked up at Party City (this “Cheers to 40 Years!” gold cake topper would have been appropriate for our theme as well).
Party Tip: The sparkler candles were pretty cool, but they took longer than expected to start sparking. If you use sparkler candles, test yours before you’re in front of a crowd. If needed, light the candles a minute before you bring out the cake or call people over to sing.
Beer and Bacon Tasting Party Activities
This was a beer tasting party after all, so our main activity was tasting beer. My husband took the lead on the categories of beer he wanted to taste and I limited him to four: Pilsners, Fruit-Infused, Reds and IPAs.
We created a Hops & Hogs Beer Tasting Mat and Scoring Sheet (which you can download for free in our Party Printables Library) for each guest to keep track of what they liked and didn’t like for each round.
I used small plastic tasting cups from Party City to serve the four beers in each round. I followed the birthday boy’s lead for timing and when he was finished tasting his four beers we asked for the collective results – which was the favorite, which was the least favorite? Then I revealed the name of each beer in each round.
Our other main activity was Bacon Tasting. Rather than host a “formal” tasting of the bacon, I opted for a Bacon Tasting Bar. This way, our guests could sample the bacon throughout the night or try pairing it with different beers.
Along with instructions that I wrote on a kraft table card, I placed a bowl of bottle caps out on the table and instructed guests to place a bottle cap in the mason jar behind their favorite bacon as their “vote” on the best. The overwhelming winner was the Sriracha Spiced Bacon (closely followed by the Maple Pecan)!
Here are the four bacon seasonings we taste tested:
Party Tip: Give yourself plenty of time if you’re planning on cooking the bacon yourself for a bacon tasting! Because we were having so many people, and tasting four different recipes, I spent 5+ hours in the kitchen on party day baking bacon! Thank goodness I started early!
The rest of the evening was spent playing darts and drinking more beer around our outdoor bar. We had such a wonderful night celebrating my husband’s 40th Birthday with our dear friends and family! I hope our Hops & Hogs themed party will inspire your next celebration, whether it’s a Milestone Birthday or just a Guys Night Out!