If you’re a beer drinker, you know that weddings aren’t always the best place to find a quality adult beverage that suits your palate. And if you’re lucky enough to find an alternative to Bud Light, Coors Light, or Miller Lite, it’s likely to be some “exotic” brew like Heineken, which isn’t going to knock your socks off.
So when my fiancée and I began looking at venues for our own wedding we assumed that we, like so many betrothed couples before us, would be stuck serving whatever beers the venue wanted to serve, with little wiggle room for a wannabe beer snob like me to add in a few wildcard selections. But as it turns out, the venue we chose is allowing us to buy and serve any alcohol we want, which means we can customize our own beer list. Hoo-ray beer!
That said, I don’t know as much about beer as I’d like to–or should, given how much of it I’ve drunk over the years. So, I enlisted the help of beer connoisseur Henry Joseph. If you’re an avid reader of this blog (i.e. Mom), you may recognize Henry’s name from previous posts–one about New York City’s Pony Bar and another about the best holiday seasonal beers. Here’s Henry’s take on wedding beer, in his own words:
I LOVE going to weddings. Scratch that. I LOVE dressing up and drinking all day. Weddings are usually good for that, but they are RARELY good for offering you a tasty beer to drink all day. This always bothers me, and I usually stay away from beer altogether, opting instead to start with whisk(e)y and moving on to vodka sodas with maybe a Coors Light in between. Heaven forbid someone offer up an Allagash White at a wedding…
Now if someone wanted to put some thought (and money, of course) into it, there are plenty of beers out there that would be PERFECT for a wedding. That Allagash White I mentioned is definitely one, as is any number of other wheat beers. Say, for example, Franziskaner Hefeweizen or the recent GABF Gold Medal winning Dreamweaver Wheat from Troegs.
Saisons are another great option. They tend to be mild and approachable in flavor leaning toward the sweet side and offering pleasant fruit/spice notes. Ommegang’s Hennepin is widely available and tastes pretty good to boot.
(Now I’m not gonna do what you think I’m gonna do and recommend Saison DuPont, the Platonic Ideal of the style because it is damn near impossible to find a bottle that isn’t skunked–draft is amazing and should always be drunk. This is the dirty little secret of the beer geek community. Everyone just walks around pretending like it doesn’t happen and saying it’s the best saison there is when the truth is that two seconds in the light has an irrevocable negative effect on its flavor. Rant. Over.)
Saisons are a little harder to find but Ithaca makes a great one in the spring time called Ground Break. It’s available right now and you should go drink it.
Of course, you can also go the lager route and offer up a nice crisp, clean alternative to your Bud-Miller-Coors. Go continental with some old German light lagers like Augustiner Edelstoff or heck, even just a simple Spaten Lager and you can have a refreshing beer to drink in large mass and your guests will hardly notice the absence of macro swill. Or you can stay closer to home and go with Victory’s Lager–it’s only one of my favorite beers ever from one of my favorite breweries ever.
In the end, though, it’s your wedding and you can serve whatever the hell you want. I’ve known some people in this industry who’ve poured some pretty cool stuff at their weddings. Some have even poured beer that they made themselves! I’ve never done this so take the following advice with a whatever, but your caterer will probably have beer distributors that they typically work with and they should be able to provide you with a product list. Or if you’re in good with your friendly neighborhood bar/beer store, they may be willing to order a keg for you. There’s no need to make people drink more shitty beer. You’re inviting your friends and family to share this special moment with you, make sure they have something special to drink, too.
As always, big thanks to Henry for schooling us all. What’s your ideal beverage at a wedding? Do you have a preferred “wedding beer”? Please share in the Comments section!