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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…

Wheat
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
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.

Lagers
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!

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By Henry Joseph
Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: Henry Joseph is The 250 Square Foot View’s resident beer expert. We interviewed him this time last year about The Pony Bar, where he bartends, and talked about the state of the American craft beer industry. Henry knows more than a little bit about beer–he’s a Certified Cicerone. And with Thanksgiving just a week away, we welcome Henry back to the blog to share his suggestions for the best beers to bring to the dinner table this holiday season.

1. Peach Berliner Weiss
Brewery: Perennial (St. Louis, MO)
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 4.1%
Description: This tart German-style wheat beer is brewed with 750 pounds of Missouri and southern Illinois peaches.

We’ve been seeing a lot of Berliner Weisses this year and this is one of my favorites. The peach plays wonderfully with the bracing tartness. It’s a great aperitif that pairs well with first courses like salads and would be a true delight next to some fresh shellfish, preferably raw. Soft goat cheese would be great as well. This selection’s a little esoteric and not for everyone, but can be a real treat for people who don’t think they like beer. In any case, a great conversation starter.

2. Duvel Rustica
Brewery: Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
ABV: 8.5%
Description: Ommegang’s take on the quintessential Belgian Golden Ale; fruity and malty, dry with a hint of sweetness, and utterly drinkable.

I like to think of Duvel as the Platonic ideal of beer. It’s got everything: malt, hops, Belgian yeastiness with a hint of spice, sweet, but dry, and this version brewed by Ommegang is no different. As far as food, this beer pairs well with everything. Literally. And everyone from the well-informed to the inexperienced will love it. If you take anything away from this, it should be that Duvel is always a good idea.

3. Domaine DuPage
Brewery: Two Brothers (Warrenville, IL)
ABV: 5.9%
Description: This French-style country ale is deep amber in color. With a toasty, sweet caramel start, it finishes with just enough hops to clean off the palate.

When you think of France, beer doesn’t usually come to mind, but this oft-neglected style of ale is an excellent companion to all your traditional holiday meals.  The earthy, malty notes are an especially nice match with turkey and stuffing. Plus, these guys just picked up a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival for this offering.

4. Old Chub Scotch Ale
Brewery: Oskar Blues (Lyons, CO)
ABV: 8.0%
Description: This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a kiss of smoke that will entice even those who think they don’t like dark beer.

We’re getting into some serious stuff here. This guy is all about the MALT and all the wonderful flavors it can bring you. Molasses, caramel, chocolate, with a hint of coffee and smoke. These flavors pair up nicely with similarly heavier foods–meat to be specific, but you’d be surprised how well it matches up with some grilled or roasted vegetables. Especially asparagus. As an added bonus, it makes a GREAT reduction liquid.

5. Black Chocolate Stout
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
ABV: 10.0%
Description: An award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style, once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. A blend of specially roasted malts bring a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor.

RICH is the word here. Roasty would be another. And chocolate, of course. Coffee, too. A bit of warming alcohol, but this beer WILL sneak up on you as its smoothness belies its strength. It’d be right at home next to a slice of pumpkin pie, or cheesecake if you’re feeling fancy. Or, heck, just drink it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pour the beer right into the bowl. I dare you. I never get tired of this beer, and neither will you.

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