Craft Beer and Weddings

I think that the nice thing about craft beer is that it is able to serve a wide range of uses. For example craft beer is cheaper than wine, the good stuff, and it often has a higher value in peoples eyes. Wine is very much a personal thing and price comes into play quite often.

Yet craft beer can add a nice note to those frugal weddings. And it can add a lot of charm and even elegance to the event. A wedding is a celebration that brings a lot of different people together, some may want "normal beer" others will want something "more fitting" for the occasion. And then the majority will love the opportunity to try something "new." Beth's had a nice run down for making weddings frugal, and as I was reading I really thought that it would be a great place to add in some craft.

But what should you choose?

Depends on what you want to do: go with tried and true favorites or introduce people to unique Colorado craft beer, or both?

Avery, New Belgium and Oskar Blues are widely available out of state. If you are looking to 'surprise' people, I might ditch one of these and go with a different craft choice.

White Rascal, Fat Tire, and Dale's Pale will hit most of your marks.

Consider Dry Dock's Apricot Blonde for a lighter beer. Great Divide's Collette is a popular farmhouse.

I'd pick a smooth porter; Strange makes a delicious Pumpkin Porter that's super smooth right now. You might take a second look at IBU's. Most people who "aren't beer people" are turned off by the bitterness. Selecting more beers with lower IBU's will help more people branch out.

Nix the Native and the Coors Light; you can find better lagers than those two. Avery makes a great Pils, Left Hand's Polestar works well, Great Divide's Nomad or Hoss should fit the pils/lager end as well.

To those who don't want the craft beers, you gotta learn sometime that there are tasty beers out there. Might as well while at a wedding. Lately all the weddings I've been to have super crafty home brews.

Make sure you check with your venue to see what they can get easily.

We have had friends who wanted to get a couple legs of their favorite stuff for their wedding, but there was an absurd tapping fee at our venue because their distributor couldn't get it. This is despite the fact that they would have bought the legs from the brewer and brought them to the venue ourselves. If my memory's accurate it has to do with their liquor licensing.

Exposing Them To The Craft

For dinner parties there is a lot to keep in mind. Beer and wine is fine! Craft beer is also super "in" right now. I feel like that might work best for a more casual or daytime wedding where folks won't be expecting cocktails. You know your guests though! It could help to put it on the invites or your wedding website so there will be no suprises.

I'm having a brunch wedding and we are only having mimosas, bloody Mary's, lemonade and sodas at our "open bar". It's your day!

I did attend a wedding where people did bitch about there not being liquor (mostly single guys, to each other; not to the bride or groom obviously!) but it's not a huge deal.

Free drinks are free drinks to me.

I think for this one you may have to take a look at the people you're inviting and apply what you know about their drinking tastes. My brother had a beer/wine bar for his wedding what he failed to realize was that almost 90% of his family drinks scotch or whiskey-based drinks exclusively. So in this particular instance, he didn't get the bang for his buck in a beer/wine bar.

No one drank really, and then no one danced because they were stone-cold sober, etc.

However, if you know your family is comprised of wine drinkers or beer drinkers, go for it. I know most people on this sub tend to go for the "It's free booze, they should be happy with what they get!" but I do think you should consider your guests' tastes here.

Crowd Pleasing Non-craft

Recently my friends and I discovered the worlf of New Zealand beer. If you care about craft beer, which you obviously do, then don't get anything made by Monteiths/DB. Lion aren't all that much better, but at least they don't do stunts like this.

For Lion's standard beer range you don't want Lion Red of Waikato. Too much bullshit tribalism/loyalty over these brands. Speights, perhaps, but personally Speights is my least favourite mainstream beer. People like it though so maybe the best in that price range. I'd drink Lion Brown over any of the above, but it's considered a cheap nasty beer even though it's on par in quality. Main difference is that don't bother to advertise it.

Next level up, their "international" selection. Steinlager is safe but boring. Zip to Stella. Becks is the best of this style.

Then you come to their "Craft" selection. So Macs. This is where I would be heading. If the wedding is in the summer then Hop Rocker, hands down. If it is getting towards the cooler part of the year then Sassy Red. Black Mac is the best, but people are scared of dark beers. They also import Little Creatures Pale Ale which is another reasonable option.

You could also think about looking at Founders or Boundary Road, both which are owned by Independant Liquor – the honorary "Third" in the Duopoly.

Perhaps Stoke or Moa if you want to still support the little guys a bit more and still play within that price range.

Good one you for going to the effort, in any case. It is important. I'm not getting married myself until I can personally make all the beer that is to be drunk. I'm not giving people a substandard event.

If youve got a range of people coming I would do the following; 1x low end beer.

I would go for speights or Corona. Some people will 'only drink speights, mate' and this will satisfy them. Cover maybe 10% of your drinkers, or if theyre middle class go for 5%. In my experience there is always one and you do not want to be caught without speights.

Follow this up with your mass beer seletion from a green bottle lager. Becks or steinlager pure I eould recommend but it doesnt really matter. Stella is shit but peiple will enjoy it. Throw in corona in this category too. This will satisfy 65%.

Everyone is saying go for macs or BRB etc., but if youve covered a nice range of craft beers then their tastes will be covered here. Given the choice someone who normally drinks a macs pilsner will have zero problem going for a tuatara version.

If you buy Macs/moa etc in bulk they will get left in favour of the crafties.

Barcelona Craft Beer

We were in Europe recenlty on a country hoop tour and I got the chance to test what Barcelona had to offer. We hit quite a few of the craft beer spots.

Here's where we went and what we thought:

  • Biercab (In Eixample): Great craft beer bar with a large tap list. I want to say 20-30 beers on tap. Lots of local/Spanish breweries. Try the cod balls and octopus!
  • Garage Brewing: Awesome brewpub with a lot of variation in styles. Some of the best beer we had in Spain Bonus for this. There's an awesome little bar in the Gothic quarter the serves Garage beer called Carlos and Matildas. I'd highly recommend sitting out on the Terrace, having a pint and enjoying the atmosphere.
  • BlackLab (Barcelona – near the Aquarium): Decent beers and ok food, close to the downtown area
  • Naparbier (Eixample): Cool bar/restaurant with a kind of biker theme… Some pretty high quality food and solid beers… Bit expensive for food
  • Barcelona Beer Company (Raval): Ok beer, ok food.
  • Chivuo's (Gracia): Cool little place off the beaten track a bit.. Stumbled upon it on our walk up to Parc Guell. They brew a few of their own beers and have others on tap. Good food as well.

We also hit Brewdog and Mikkeller.

Both of which are cool bars but not local breweries. Another place I'd mention is Caravelle in Raval. It's more of a little restaurant but they brew a few house beers themselves as well. Awesome food (tacos!) and vibe. Happy drinking and enjoy Barcelona!

I actually found a beer guide of Barcelona after we left. Which only makes me want to vist again sometime. This time though I would like to make it the primary vacation destination. Though I think that it will take a while. The kids are crying to go to Flordia. I am sure you can guess why.

For not I will just have to dream.

Here are my notes for next time:

  • Lambicus, best Belgian Bottle shop.
  • Roses i Torrades, Bottle shop.
  • 2D2Dspuma, Bottle shop.
  • BierCaB, best bar in Spain.
  • NaparBCN, best beerpub in Spain.

Always with limited collaborations between famous brewers.

Breweries and beers you must taste from Spain: La Calavera: "medical stout", "batard chardonnay" Montseny: any variants of "Mala Vida" Guineu: "Montserrat", "Black Velvet" and others Naparbier: "Back in Black", and any other. La Quince: "SweetDreams", "Horny Pilsner", and any other. Dougalls: "Session Stout", and others Laugar: "Aupa Tovarisch", and others. Reptilian: "Apokalypse", and others. Ales Agullons: There are blended with lambic Cantillon. Yria: any beer.

Serving Beer At Large Gathering

The first is to be fairly conservative with your choice of beer. The first time I ordered a keg, it was Anchor Steam and almost no one drank it.

The last time I ordered kegs for an event, it was two sixtels (1/6 barrel) instead of full kegs (1/2 bbl). One of them was hard cider and the other Sam Adams Oktoberfest, both which were very popular. We actually ran out too quickly, though because it was a low budget wedding, we couldn't really have bought much more.

Serving beer is more complicated than most people think. I went to one wedding on a very, very warm day (one of the bridesmaids passed out from the heat) where the caterers were pouring mostly foam and had no idea what to do about it.

My serving recommendation to you is to borrow/rent a jockey box from a homebrew store or distributor. These are coolers that have either coils or a plate chiller which takes room temp beer down to 34 degrees in seconds. You can leave the kegs under a table & run the hoses up the back. The front of the cooler you can decorate & frilly it up for the wedding.

I highly recommend using a jockey box & it shouldn't cost too much to rent.

Another great benefit of using a jockey box is that the beer is usually pushed with CO2. This is way better than the hand pumps that most frat parties use. The hand pumps put oxygen on the beer and it will go stale very fast. If you push the beer with CO2 it will stay fresh much longer (more or less indefinitely).

Jockey boxes only foam if there is no ice under the plate chiller or if there are bubbles in the line.

So if your wedding doesn't drink all of the beer you can finish it at a later date without throwing it all away.

If you have long beer lines and don't cool them, you get foam. If it's a hot day and you don't keep the kegs properly cooled, you get foam. If you shake the kegs too much in transit, you get foam. Experienced caterers should know what they need to do to get good pours.

Keep in mind that beer begins spoiling when it comes into contact with air.

That means if you use standard hand-pumped taps, you have at most a couple days to consume everything in the kegs. If you find a way to use CO2, not only will the beer still be good to drink for weeks afterward (if refrigerated properly), the pours will be faster and more consistent. If you can rent a "jockey box", you could theoretically hide the kegs and only have the faucets be visible. (I've never used one, but the idea is you're cooling the beer as it comes through the lines rather than the whole keg.)

The big caveat with not using standard hand-pumped taps is that foreign beers use different style keg couplers, so you would have to make sure to get the correct one if you were buying a Belgian, for example.

If you can't rent a jockey box from somewhere, check with local breweries or homebrew clubs. A lot of breweries and homebrewers have jockey boxes available for brew events and competitions, etc. They might be willing to let you borrow it for the weekend for free, or for a couple bucks. Just a thought. Also check craigslist, I see them on there from time to time.

From The Brewery Direct

You cannot contact a brewery directly, unfortunately. The three tier system requires beer sales to go through a distributor for all large volume product sales, especially kegs.

It's why the WAB runs lines through the wall to The Loving Touch to sell beer, because otherwise they'd have to sell their own beer to themselves. If they wheeled the kegs next door, they could lose their license.

Also, your prices are going to be pretty standard no matter where you go.

Alcohol cannot be sold below cost, or else the retailer could lose their license. That means the lowest they can do is at cost, which they'd likely only do if you were a regular. Any discount anyone is giving you is going to cut into their bottom line, so there has to be a benefit for them.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to contact the brewery directly, you won't be allowed to deal with a distributor either. Your best bet is hoping a local shop will cut you a deal, which they probably won't.

That being said, you don't need a membership to buy alcohol from Costco or Sam's Club and those may be your best bet.

It’s a Craft Country

Unfortunatley, in America mediocrity and sameness is the norm.

Afterall, fast food is by faaaar the best selling food in our nation – and Walmart is the nations largest employer. Beer is no exception.

American corporate lagers is made with one thing in mind – drinkability. And what is more drinkable than cold water? They use corn and rice to produce a substantial amount of the alcohol in their beer because it does so without adding any taste. But that leaves the beer tasting grainy/grassy – to compensate for that, they encourage you to drink beer as close to freezing as possible.

Ever drink a commercial beer lukewarm?

Craft beer is made with one thing in mind – taste and a fierce devotion to quality. And because of that, it actually taste better as it warms a little. Usually around 48 degrees…which is good and cool, not ice cold.

There are hundreds of varities and choices in the craft beer world. Unlike the corporate yellow fizzy stuff – where you would do very well to tell any difference at all. So your choice is to stand in line and be told what you like by a savvy marketing firm – or choose for yourself and drink what you like.

My suggestion it to test, taste the various styles and expand your palate.

With such variety and selections now available to many beer drinkers, I am sure you will find you "beer zone". I know my taste have changed over the years. There is no one beer for every situation. Time of year, food pairing, and alcohol content help determine the proper beer for the right situation. Also remember just because you do not like the beer, does not mean that it is bad beer.

Try and appreciate what the brew was trying to do.

A Wide Range

Not everyone likes craft. If you want all of your beer drinking guests to be happy you should at least have one light beer on tap. Unless for some reason every person you invited to your wedding is a craft beer enthusiast, you're probably going to have some disappointed guests and people grumbling to themselves about it.

Still, just because someone buys and drinks light lager doesn't mean they will turn their noses up at a craft brewed pils or lager. Honestly, though if anyone did grumble about that I'd probably consider them rude, it's not their wedding celebration and it doesn't have to cater to their taste for something they can buy at pretty much any convenience store.

Most people who just drink light beer aren't interested in venturing further into other types of beer.

It is no way rooted in fact, and my own anecdotal experience points to most craft beer drinkers starting off in the same boat, buying 30 racks of light beer because it's cheap and familiar. I'd branched out to "premium" brands and been dissapointed at the price/quality ratio compared to Bud.

When I talk to people who drink Bud Light every day, it's more of a "business" decision, rather than any other preference.

The key to a good wedding is variety and the realization that not everything the guest will be drinking will be something you enjoy.

Have a good bar with a variety of spirits, as well as a variety of white and red wines. As for beer itself – the OP talked about Sierra Nevada, and they honestly run the gauntlet in the types of beers they make from delicious stouts to Oktoberfest styles and yea, they do hoppy. But they also do stuff like witbier and Blondes.

So give people options, at least two. Have several craf beers on hand and then a light option.

My reasoning is that personally, most of the people attending a wedding that don't drink craft beer are older male relatives that also would never be caught dead with a light beer.

But you also want to have a lower-calorie option for sessioning. Which brings up a good point- instead of Bud Light, why not do a "session beer" like SN Nooner, Notch Session Pils, or Full Sail Session Lager.

This is just what would work best for my group, but you know your guests the best. What I plan on doing is going down the entire guest list and asking myself "Will there be something this person will be satisfied drinking?" It doesn't have to be their favorite drink, but the last thing I want is someone sober and salty that there's nothing for them to drink.

Beer Ratings

The lack of standards, and the role personal taste plays. By rating a beer I am logging (mostly for personal usage) how much I enjoyed a beer. Therefore I do not have to know about the style, be unbiased by personal views and preferences, or be "qualified" to rate and I find it slightly ridiculous to suggest as such.

There may be no flaws to describe, but personal taste. This isn't a contest where each beer is judged against a standard, this is one person's personal impression of that beer.

Of course personal taste is a factor, however it is much more useful on styles you know.

For instance I would be able to taste how a certain malt or certain hop comes through in an IPA and would be able to give useful criticism on certain aspects. I think it's good to balance personal taste and objective observations. While there is no objective standard to be judging beers on, I don't think it's bad to consider how much a beer aligns or deviates with "traditional" tendencies of its' style. Often times the beers that deviate from the tradition of their style can be my favorites!

However I do think that if someone is going to give a bad rating they should at least attempt to explain why. I don't think concrete knowledge is as important as gathering experience and familiarity with various styles. There shouldn't be an exclusive right to rate beers, and I hope I'm not appearing to suggest that. I just think these brewers deserve a bit of our effort if we choose to rate.

The thing is, many of these assume that people rate and post tasting notes for others to see. That is in many instances not the case. They don't do it because they want to improve the beer or give a genuine feedback, they're just stating whether they enjoyed it or not.

If you want feedback, you shouldn't be looking at Untappd. Maybe Ratebeer is a better option as its users are on average more beerwise, but in the end it's not a safe bet.

The problem here isn't people rating beers, it's trying to make sense of the randomness people attribute to beer(s).

I feel like this is also applies to real life encounters as well.

I enjoy dark beer. The more stout the better however I don't like any IPA's I have ever tried, I just don't like "hoppy" beer. So anytime I ask friend of family what's a beer I should try, no matter who I ask it's always an IPA, or a terrible domestic beer.

I think it all stems from people not accepting the different flavor of beer, I will still try an IPA just to try it. Who knows maybe someday I'll like one, but I don't stick to a type and I feel like that's what most people do. They find a type or kind of beer they like then expect all other beer to taste that way and when it isn't they thinks it's awful, instead of actually tasting and considering what the brew master intended it to taste like.

That's exactly why I like you guys, it's not all this sucks, that sucks, it's genuine interest in the intention behind the beer.