Monday, April 26, 2010

I need a drink!

My wedding reception is being held at a venue that only serves beer and wine. That's right, no hard liquor at the wedding. While that may piss some people off, as soon as they realize that it's 2 more free alcohols than they had before they came to the wedding, they'll be fine with it. I've been to several beer & wine weddings, and had a blast. In fact, one of my favorite wedding memories ever - my buddy Paul getting blasted and doing the Harlem shake on the bus back to the hotel - stemmed from a beer and wine only reception.

That being said, I LOVE beer. My last semester at college I luckily only needed 1 regular course and 1 elective course to graduate. The elective course I chose to take: Beer Tasting. I'm not trying to make a, "In college, I majored in alcohol management, and horticulture if you know what I mean" type of joke, I'm actually serious, I took a beer tasting class. Thanks to UNLV for having an incredible course under their hotel management school. It was in this class I learned about beer for about an hour and half, then spent another hour and a half tasting beers we just learned about. Many people would take a sip of the beer, swish it around in their mouths, and dump the rest in the discard bucket. Not my roommate and me (and actually the teachers as well). We quickly established ourselves as the class drunks beer enthusiasts. It was in this class that I honed my love of beer. I cultivated it. I owned it.

Unfortunately at most weddings, I usually pass up my beloved libation. I think the only reason that's the case is because of limited beer selections. When given the option to drink Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Amstel Light and maaaaybe, if I'm super lucky a wild card beer like Stella Artois, I tend to go vodka tonic or Jack & coke. I'm not trying to be a beer snob at all, but I think the reason a lot of people shy away from beer is because you present them with options that all taste very similar. If you don't like the taste of one of those options listed above, you probably aren't going to order beer at the reception mentioned above. Weddings usually offer at least 2 varieties of wine that taste distinctly different from one another. Why should your beer be any different? In my eyes giving someone the choice between Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light is not giving them an option. You wouldn't serve 3 different but very similar Pinot Noirs, would you?

So, I'm left with the decision of what beers to have at the wedding. Our venue has a really awesome outdoor kitchen that has a couple drafts that pop out of their granite counter top. So when I say I can get a few kegs, I don't want you to think this is a college keg party. Additionally, some (most) beers just taste better when they're not served in bottles. Plus, don't we all just love having a pint glass full of beer? So I was thinking that I would get a couple small kegs to have beer on tap and then also potentially buying low quantities of many different beers so people could try various brews through the evening.

After watching a documentary called Beer Wars this last weekend, I would really rather not have any Anheuser Busch beers at the wedding. Before you throw your arms in the air and start calling me a snob, or an elitist, please know that it's for the exact opposite reason. I'd much rather introduce people to the little guys out there fighting to at least coexist in the industry. I'd love to show my guests fact that there are other options, and let them know that the Bud Lights (American Style Lagers) are only ONE variety of beer out there, not the definitive and only style. After all, some keywords that we've used when planning our wedding have always been: fresh, local, relaxed, small companies. Why shouldn't our beer reflect that as well?

I do, however, have one concern. If my selections are too far "out there" I run the risk of ostracizing people that just like Bud Lights because they like Bud Light. If I don't supply beer that is familiar, and they genuinely don't care for any of the selections I've picked, they're left with nothing. There's no jack & coke or vodka tonic to fall back on. I'm going to have to find at least one beer that while it isn't Miller, Coors, Bud, still tastes familiar. I seem to remember a beer by the New Belgium Brewing Company (they make Fat Tire) called Blue Paddle that was their answer to the Pilsener Lager. So there are beers out there that would allow my guests to take baby steps into the beer garden. Maybe I need to get back into beer tasting. It'll be horrible for the diet, but it'll make for an enjoyable reception.

If you have any beer suggestions please leave them in the comments!


  1. I wish I was more of a beer enthusiast; but I'm a Jack and ginger or Yuengling kinda girl. Anyways, I'm a wedding planner and had a client that was really really interested in wine. We had a wine bar set up at the reception [separate from the main bar serving beer, wine, and mixed drinks]. It was a totally hit!

    To show your love of beer, and perhaps broaden your guests horizons, you could have a beer tasting bar. I'm sure your venue has a portable bar they can set up somewhere.

  2. In my experience, everyone seems to be down with hefeweizens and belgian white ales. They're light enough for the light beer drinkers, but they're also something the beer snobs will love. I would go with Blue Moon, or if you have some extra $ in the budget, go for some Hoegaarden.

    Other safe bets: heineken, amstel, stella, redhook, shiner bock, long hammer pale, and New Castle.

    Just stay away from stouts, porters and IPA's. Those tend to scare people away. (Not me though. Those three are my favorites! Buuuuut I'm the daughter of a homebrewer, so...)

  3. You should just have some sort of menu with beer descriptions on it so that those of us who are clueless won't have to ask you what we'd like (like I do when we go anywhere with cool beer options). I remember wurstkuche had some good beers, but I can't remember what the one I liked was.

  4. Have Bud Light and a few familiar beers on hand, but start searching out local breweries! If you want actual brand names? Killians is a great beer, as is Smithwicks. Guinness is always a crowd pleaser.

  5. Bowie Bride, I'm fully with you on hefeweizens! You've got some great suggestions above. I reeeeally love IPAs but I totally agree that they're not for everyone. Dogfish Head brewery makes delicious IPAs if you can find them! Is your dad going to release a special Bowie Bride Wedding Day brew?! That would be AWESOME.

    Rebecca, I think that's a great idea to have a menu w/ descriptions of beers if I have a lot of options. Additionally, the servers at our venue are REALLY knowledgeable so I'm sure if someone walked up and said, "I like something creamy but not too heavy" they'd be able to make a good suggestion. I've got time to figure this out!

    Cortney, I'll definitely find a beer option that will satisfy the Bud Light drinkers, but I'm really going to try to stray away from the big 3 breweries (Bud, Coors, Miller). It's tough because that excludes so many beers from the list: Stella, Boddingtons, Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, Shock Top, Killians, and Bass to name a couple of the good ones!

  6. You've got a great point about having too many similar types of beer.

    But one observation: People serve different wines because the others aren't substantially more expensive than pinot noirs. Not so with beer. To get variety away from Bud, Miller, and Coors requires a bigger investment.

    I guess we can agree that if you can only afford to serve a shitty beer selection, there's no point in diversifying that selection very much.

  7. I agree with a lot of what's been said above. Totally respect your decision to avoid crap like Bud or Coors.

    I think you should mix it up with 3-4 solid but specific choices, and one staple. I'd go with an IPA, a White/Hefewizen, a Porter, and maybe a Lager. Most people really love one of those four types of beer, and they'll be psyched you've got a craft beer.

    There's lots of great ones out there, but I'd recommend Dogfish or Sierra Nevada for the IPA, Allagash White or Widmer Hefe, Guiness or Kona for the Porter, and Brooklyn or Sam Adams for the Lager. Agreed with the suggestion above to get a "regular" beer too, like Yuengling, but recommend you pair it with a Lite.

    Lots of good reviews at

  8. If you're looking to taste-test a few local options with friends, without any big investment on your part, I'd recommend hitting the Laurel Tavern one night with friends. They have a good range of quality beers, some from CA, that might fit the bill, especially if you can get friend approval. And it's in your neck of the woods. And, even if you don't find anything, it's a fun night overall.

  9. I had the best tasting beer this past weekend and it would be perfect for a summer wedding! The brand is Leininkuegels (sp) and it's their Summer Shandy. It's mixed with a hint of lemonade but it's not overpowering! It was delicious!

  10. I can order 18 different kinds of beer, by the gallon, from a brewery in Detroit that I seriously love, for 5 dollars a gallon. They also sell kegs.

    I HIGHLY recommend looking into local breweries near you. They're relatively affordable if you buy in bulk, and it's helping out the little guys!

  11. Swing by your local BevMo and check out their keg selection. They've got at least 40 different brews, all types of beers from a wide variety of brewers. But I agree it's best to stick with two options max. I recommend a Hefeweizen (Pyramid is a good mid-priced Hef) or light ale (Stella perhaps), and a darker option like an amber (Anchor Steam & Fat Tire are my faves). Regardless, having a nicer beer than Bud Light will add a real touch of class regardless of what you choose, so don't drive yourself crazy overthinking it.

    Man, now I want a nice cold beer...and it's only 11am...

  12. Hey there!

    I live in Germany with my husband and we always loved to try different beers. I never liked Bud, Miller or Coors, and the one that i liked the most in US as XX, very good!

    I will give you some options, from a girl's perspectiv, because girls also like to drink beer! hehehe

    Guinness - i hate it, but usually guys like it
    Kronenbourg 1664 - very good
    Pilsner Urquell - good but i don't like pils a lot, here at our parties is what most men drink
    Malteser- i love it
    Paulaner - the beeeeeesssssstttttttt ever! The Hefe gets you feeling full faster then the Cristal one.
    Hoegaarden:veryyy tastefulllll

    I know i'm not giving you some american beer option, but if you like beer tasting, and want to give some options i think you could go "global". Go to a local bevearage store and see how much they cost, then you can choose the one that fits the budget!!!

    Good luck!

  13. We can talk on AIM.... I've got a billion ideas for you. I've sampled US microbrews into the thousands.


  15. I just found your blog, and a) best blog title in the history of the Internet b) best last semester in the history of college c) good luck selecting a variety of awesome beers! I'm stuck with Bud because half our guests are from St. Louis.