Tuesday 8 November 2011

Beer at Weddings

Last weekend I went to my third wedding of the year. There were three casks of beer there (the groom loves beer – that’s how we met); two from Kent Brewery and one from Brodies. That’s a great thing to arrive and see because weddings so often have rubbish beer (the other two weddings this year were pretty good, too – I guess I’ve been lucky).

It did leave me thinking something that often rolls around my mind: what beers would I want at my wedding?

The thing is: when I’m at a wedding I don’t want anything crazy or complicated. It’s a wedding so it’s not about the beer, even if I do want to still drink nice bottles. That means the beers need to be simple.

I’d like to brew a special beer for it, either commercially or on a homebrew kit. It’d be something which could age for a few years – a Tripel or barley wine. This would just be available in big bottles for sharing and just for the wedding speeches (if I couldn’t get my own beer then the speeches would need a favourite, probably Orval).

I’d also want bottles for everything else. I like drinking from bottles and think they’re easier to carry than pint glasses, especially when jumping around on the dance floor. I’d want a good lager. Something for everyone to drink (because not all my friends are beer geeks) and something cold that I can gulp all night – Camden Hells would be it. Then I’d want something pale and hoppy because I love hops. It needs to be fresh and super fruity, so a good pale ale or IPA – Racer 5, Odell IPA, Sculpin IPA, Blind Pig IPA (I’d pay a small fortune to get my favourite beers there). I wouldn’t pair anything with the dinner but might have a couple of cases of something big and strong with dessert just because it’s my big day and I can.

Moving away from the beer as the night ends, I’d want some spirits – a bottle of bourbon (Maker’s Mark works) and a whisky (something smoky like Laphroig or Ardbeg). And then I’m done and the late-night fish finger sandwiches and pizza arrive for everyone to eat.

Lauren doesn’t drink booze so she’d want Coke Zero. She’ll be in charge of organising everything else while I make sure the bar is fully stocked. Sounds like a good deal to me.

At the brewery we get regular requests for beer for weddings so it’s something that people want, and why not? I don’t want to drink crap beer on my wedding day – I want the best beer I can get and the beers which mean something to me; they aren’t the centre piece but it’s good to have a nice beer in one hand and your bride in the other.

 What beer did you have at your wedding? Or what would you want at yours?


  1. Our wedding was so long ago and we were so young, we didn't think about drinks much... went with whatever the venue bar had in stock I think. And my dad may have got in lots of extra whisky. Indian, innit?

    I love your list but have to say, that's an expensive drinks range you're wanting to get in, especially if you stock it in sufficient quantities to still have some left throughout the night!

    I did a party for my 40th recently, admittedly on a FAR FAR FAR tighter budget than a wedding party, of course. But I quickly realised that getting in even a pint of decent beer per person attending blew my entire drinks budget out of the water.

    Home brew, I love the idea of that, especially for a toast, Pete's on his second properly home-made beer (not kit) and it's a Christmas spiced beer he's making...

    (He'll probably blog about it eventually on his new blog, separated from mine now, at PeteDrinks.com)

    I think homemade would be special for a special occasion.

    Other than that, as a sweet-toothed girl, I'd have to request barrels of that amazing slightly sweet Polish plum beer that our local Wetherspoons got in for a beer festival and which I fell in love with.

  2. I was still a bit clueless about buying beer from breweries when we got married. The place we had our reception at didn't have a cellar and was a bit funny about giving a polypin time to settle. So me ended up getting it from an online company that could supply bright beer.
    We had 2 boxes from Little Valley Brewery in Hebden Bridge which isn't too far from where we live. We had Tod's Blonde, a lager-like blonde ale and Cragg Vale Bitter.
    I'd have liked to have stuff from my local brewery Saltaire but it wasn't possible.
    If I could do it all again, I'd fill a few cornies of hombrewed APA and have bottles of Geueze for toasting.

  3. The last wedding I went to had two cask from Thornbridge, Lumford and Wild Swan. Many people were confused and took the beer back because it was "flat".

  4. I'm hoping for a couple of nice simple pale and hoppy...yorkshire dales, hawkshead, brew co, malinsons or durham would be just perfect.

    maybe a couple of darker beers in bottles and a champagne beer like DW for the toast!

  5. We got married in Sussex and our venue ordered in two kegs of Harvey's Best. Not the world's best beer but certainly better than the John Smiths Extra Smooth we would have had to drink otherwise!

    It was a good session beer which kept the party going for a long time!

  6. Our wedding reception was in the downstairs part of Pivovarsky klub back in Prague, so we definitely had their own Stepan pale lager and Primator weizen, we also had Primator's standard pale lager, the tmave from Bakalar, Zatec's Xantho and the highlight for me was the Kocour Saison. All on tap.

    We also had the entire bottle selection to choose from. As you can imagine there were no complaints about the booze!

  7. I'l probably have my beer drinking card revoked for this, but I'm singularly a Scotch (with one ice cube) drinker al all weddings. Islay if they have it.

    No comments about the Scotch reference, either. I'm a Yank and we refer to it as Scotch, and not simply as whisky.

  8. We had our wedding in a grand room above a pub, as much because we both like pubs as any other reason, though we made the decision about where primarilyon the basis of the quality of the function room rather than the beers available. In any case, they had about four or five ales on (including Doom Bar and others of that ilk), so it wasn't too bad. I ended up drinking Palm lager all night, as I wanted something cold and fairly uncomplicated...

  9. Kavey - I'll skimp on the suit to afford the beer! Something I've made myself would be brilliant, especially if Lauren helped to brew it as well!

    Rob - Some gueuze for toasting would be great! And a wedding with two Thornbridge beers sounds great to me!

    Andy - Sounds good! Buy lots!

    Al - NICE! Jealous.

    Craig - Just whisky and no beer?!

    Pubology - Cold and uncomplicated is key for a wedding beer, I think. At the first two weddings I went to this year I drank bottle after bottle of Bud - that's fine for me!

  10. One firkin of Alfies from Best Mates Brewery, Ardington, gravity dispense from cask on top of the bar (our reception was a mile from the brewery so rude not to...).

    We only asked for a pin, but the whole 9 was drained by (about) 9pm I think. Good job they over-ordered else we would have run out before the wedding breakfast...

  11. One of the guests is a brewer at Bright Brewery, I've got 3 of his beers plus a generic light option. An APA for knocking back, a wit to match the majority of the meals and a Dubbel to match the rest of the food. The Dubbel was insisted upon by my fiancé.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

  12. A couple of years ago my wife and I got married with a DIY wedding. I brewed all of the beer for the free bar. As it was free, people weren't as afraid to experiment so I tried to open their eyes to the variety of beer available without scaring them off completely. The lineup was:

    German Kolsch
    English Bitter
    Belgian Pale Ale
    American IPA

    I also brewed for a friends wedding as a wedding present. This time the lineup was:

    Scotish 80/-
    Wit Beer
    Freedom Organic Lager (from local local Mircobrewery)

    *Surprisingly the 80/- and Porter were the first to go!

    People loved serving themselves but by the end of the night various beer cocktails had been invented including "Judas Priest" (1/3 Cider, 1/3 Lager, 1/3 Wit) . Not sure it will catch on!

  13. I'm getting married next year and have been racking my brains about what to have on. The problem is that your not buying for yourself (I know exactly what I would have on if it was just for me!). Most people coming are lager drinkers so was thinking about going for something like BrewDog 77 lager or the affirmationed Camden Hells. And then getting a couple of polypins from a local brewery or a good bottled pale ale for the myself and like minded drinkers. A summer wedding after all, you want something refreshing and inexpensive, catering for lots of people makes a serious dent in your bank balance.

  14. Yeah, most of the weddings I have to go to, I need to get "there" and stay "there" quickly. Nothing like a Scotch buzz to do the trick.

  15. Er...Nuptu'ale?

  16. I have visions of you getting married in the buff... but with some great beer ready! ;)

  17. On this very point, Mark: http://beerprole.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/our-wedding-beer-summer-wine-covenant/


  18. Beers we had at our wedding:

    Green Flash Nut Brown Ale (unfortunately, they don't brew this anymore. :( )
    Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale
    Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale

    Looking back, I wish I had had the guts to have one of the Green Falsh or Ballast Point IPAs, but I thought that might be too much for the guests to handle... we actually had one of our guests get annoyed because there wasn't any Bud Light! I guess not everyone is a beer lover.. but ultimately, that was his problem, not mine!

  19. I'm fine tuning the recipe for my own homebrewed wedding beer at the moment. It's my kind of DIY wedding project- my fiancee is eager to help and we have fun drinking our mistakes. In terms of serving recommendations for a wedding, barleywines are a nice idea.
    For anyone interested in getting started, here are some tips that can help (and a beautiful pic of the beer bubbling away on my stovetop):