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Beers for wedding?

  • j

Down to the final planning stages for my wedding. We're having a full bar, wine and champagne. Since we are providing our own alcohol I'm limiting the beer selections. I'm thinking two domestics (regular and light) and one import. What do you all suggest that will cover the bases that, while not necessarily chowhoundish, will satisfy the masses. Also, what are your thoughts on Peroni, as we're leaning that way as the import? Thanks all.

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  1. Peroni is crap, no offense. It's completely indistinguishable from any other Euro lager, and is highly prone to skunking.

    I would urge you to dismiss the erroneous concept of "import" vs. "domestic", and instead think of craft vs. macro. Personally, I've always found this catering to the lowest common denominator a little baffling - if the only choice is good beer, will people stop drinking beer?

    At any rate, if you're looking for a good third beer in addition to whichever Bud/Miller/Coors product you're going to purchase for the first two options, I would suggest looking in your area for small craft breweries. If you live in one of the country's major metropolitan areas, there is probably a good craft brewery nearby that would give you a good deal on a keg.

    If that's not doable, then you can probably get Sam Adams Boston Lager or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for a reasonable price, and those are both decent craft-y beers with mass appeal.

    You can use this search to find a local brewery:
    http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/

    21 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Actually, Sam Adams was the primary consideration as the domestic regular. As I mentioned, not everyone at a wedding will know/care what they are drinking. But, thanks for the dismissive/condescending assumption that all the choices will be Bud/Miller/Coors.

      1. re: jdf

        I think guests would feel comfortable with beers they recognized, in which case Sam Adams, which is a fine beer anyhow, seems like a great choice.

        I wonder how Spaten or Hofbrau would play for the import. Names that are somewhat familiar, and yet a bit different than, say, Heineken.

        1. re: Jim Dorsch

          Jim,

          Thanks for the useful advice.

          I thought of Heineken too. I happen to like it. The reason I shied away is because I think people either like/dislike Heineken because it has a more distinctive taste than a typical american beer. The reason I thought of Peroni is because it is an inoffensive beer. For myself, I'd choose other things, but do you think it may be a safer way to go than the Heineken/Spaten/Hofbrau type of beer?

          1. re: jdf

            I see your logic and it makes sense. FWIW, Peroni is a fast-growing brand, albeit on a small base. Stella Artois might be another one to consider, and it also is growing quickly.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              Stella is such an average beer, though. I mean really, is there any appreciable difference between Stella, Heineken, St. Pauli Girl, Beck's, Peroni, Grolsch, and (insert any other Euro macro lager here)? I can't help but see these brands as dinosaurs, both because of the increasing meaninglessness of their brands as they get purchased by InBev and homogenized even more than they already were, and also because of the global movement towards craft brewing. I was just at the opening of the new location of Toronado tonight - 49 handles of incredible craft beers, and not one single macro (either domestic or import) in the bunch. It's strange to me that these parallel worlds exist, but it's also obvious to me that people who really care about beer are more likely to be drinking the smaller production craft brews than the InBev stuff.

              1. re: Josh

                Fine, but consider the event. It's a wedding, and as such, I would think it more important to make guests feel comfortable than to make an ideological statement.

                Regarding the global movement toward craft brewing, it's small, and it's going to stay small, and Stella and its ilk will continue to outsell craft beer.

                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                  I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure why you'd classify it as an ideological statement. To my eyes, that reads like you're saying there's no actual difference between craft beer and macro beer in terms of product quality, and differentiating between the two is a matter of ideology vs. taste.

                  I've had this discussion before with people, and I think it's very, very weird that beer is viewed in a different light than other beverages, as though the concept of flavor and how the product actually tastes is completely irrelevant. If one goes to a wedding and there is wine being served, often with the choice simply being "red or white", people don't abstain from drinking wine because it's not specifically Chateuneuf de Pape. They're there for the event, and the occasion, and they're going to drink what's presented to them.

                  As a beer fan, I view that as a great opportunity to give people a taste of what beer is capable of being when in the right hands. So long as what you're providing isn't too far outside the comfort zone taste-wise (i.e. Russian Imperial Stout or Double IPA), then I think people will happily drink it, and maybe even come away with a desire to try other craft beers.

                  Now, ideologically, I know that the craft beer market segment is significantly smaller than that of the corporate brewing giants, but to say it's going to stay small seems like kind of a strange prediction to me. Craft brewing is far and away the fastest growing segment of the beer market, and I'm certain that's a big part of the reason that the brewing giants are trying to capture part of that market.

                  But stepping outside the discussion of market forces, advertising, and brand loyalty, to me an entity like InBev - an entity that buys brand names, consolidates brewing operations, and then markets these products with heavy advertising related more to what the experience is allegedly supposed to invoke (Belgium in the early 1900s) rather than what the product actually tastes like - seems basically evil, because they're operating with the mindset that what's in the bottle is simply a commodity, and all that matters is persuading people it's good based on how you present it.

                  1. re: Josh

                    People in the craft segment talk about someday achieving 10% market share. That seems like a lot, and they might achieve it, and if they do that'll be great, and it'll still be small.

                    Re: the ideological statement, I'm amazed that you can jump from my words to your conclusion. I merely say that a wedding isn't necessarily the time to be proselytizing for better beer.

                    Re: beer as a commodity, that's precisely how many products are sold, and beer is one of them. I believe that craft is currently growing faster than imports because they don't sell in that manner, but there is a limit to the amount of growth that can be achieved in this fashion, particularly if one lacks marketing money.

                    I don't like what Inbev is doing, but that doesn't mean they're evil. Analysts have long stated that the global beer business was too fragmented and needed to consolidate. At the opposite end of the business from craft breweries, that's what's required to enhance efficiency.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      I guess I don't see offering local beer as proselytizing. To reiterate, people don't choose wine based on brand, but on style. Just as you likely wouldn't see a Barolo as the red option, so I wouldn't serve a barleywine. I think it's quite possible to find a local amber, pale, or lager that will be acceptable to guests.

                      Re: commodification, I strongly believe this was a disastrous wrong turn in terms of sustainability and the quality of our diet. When one farm having an E. Coli problem sickens people all over the nation, then obviously there is a fundamental problem with our system. Commodification sucks, and people are starting to understand this, which is why the artisan food and beer movements are gaining steam.

                      1. re: Josh

                        I don't disagree with serving a local beer, as long as it fit stylistically and, of course, it was good.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I wonder. That is the debate I've been having with myself. I think many people, who are not real beer afficianados and not familiar with different styles of beer (i.e. hefeweisen v. pilsner v. lager), will just order the beer they've had before and like. If they hear a name like a smuttynose lager or whatever type of smuttynose, they may not go for it, having no familiarity with it. That being said, I'm still kicking around all thwe different suggestions everyone has made.

                          1. re: jdf

                            Even though I'm committed to craft beer, I would tend to provide something my guests were familiar with.

                            That would still leave room for interesting craft beers, such as Sierra Nevada or Sam Adams.

                            On the import side it would be harder to find something recognizable and also interesting.

                            In the end, my guests' comfort in a familiar name might trump my desire to serve them something interesting (interesting to me, perhaps not to them!).

                            1. re: jdf

                              FWIW, my wife and I also provided the bar setup at our wedding. We went with the usual liquors and mass-market wines (Woodbridge I think) with a few top shelf offerings thrown in like my uncle's favorite Scotch, etc.

                              In regards to the beer, we are micro fans, especially hoppy beers, so we figured we would "subject" our guests to our tastes but with a domestic lager as backup.

                              1/2 Keg of Labatt Blue
                              1/6 of Otto's Double D (>8% ABV DIPA from State College, PA)
                              1/6 of Anchor Liberty Ale
                              1/6 of Troeg's Nut Brown Ale
                              1/6 of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

                              What ran out first? The Double D. People I only knew to drink Miller Lite were trying the variety and generally enjoying them. We got the Nut Brown to satisfy anyone who wasn't into the hops but had quite a bit left over.

                              I printed out sheets of paper that identifed the beers and gave a description with tasting notes, etc. I think it helped people approach these beers with less fear and it also let them know what they were getting into (as far as ABV).

                              Just some thoughts.

                              1. re: hash_slinger

                                But beer is a default drink for a lot of people who won't even drink wine, or maybe will drink it when served with a meal, but have no label or even style recognition whatsover. In Canada anyway, there's just a hell of a lot more marketing and personal identification around beer. When we got married we wanted people to feel comfortable and have a good time, so we provided some standard massmarket beers that we knew were the favourites of some important people (my father-in-law) and would also be generally accepted by people who maybe don't drink often and don't know what to order and just want to see something familiar at the bar.
                                That said, we also have our favourite local microbrew on tap, for ourselves.

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  with a large group of people that seems to be where the concern lies, familiarity. hash slinger took the jump and prepared to have people not appreciate their own beer tastes but tried to accommodate people as best as they could by providing tasting notes and variety. he was pleasantly surprised that people were adventurous! he certainly made it much easier.

                                  you are the best judge of your crowd. get some for yourself and then determine from there what your guests will be willing to venture to try... you might end up surprised too.

            2. re: jdf

              I wasn't trying to be condescending or dismissive, so I apologize if that's how it came off. Electronic communication is so lacking in nuance that tone is nearly impossible to detect.

              I've had similar discussions before (more than once), and usually when I've had that discussion B/M/C is mentioned as the main options because that's what most people are familiar with. My mistake for assuming that's what you meant!

              Still, I think by leaving local craft beer out of your options you're doing yourself a disservice. I don't know what part of the country you're in, but most places have access to very good local craft brews, or craft brews from a region close to you. The beer is typically a lot fresher than anything you can get that's imported.

              Is there a particular reason you specifically want something that's been imported?

              1. re: Josh

                Thanks Josh. We're in NYC. No special reason for the import. I just wanted to give 3 options, and figured most imports have a distinguishable taste from domestic beers (not better, just different). Plus, in some people's minds, they want an import because they feel its better. Not in my mind, but when its a wedding with a wide sampling of people, I have to compromise somewhat and appeal to the masses. . Thought about Sam Adams, Brooklyn Lager or even Yuengling. Of course, I'd love something like a Smuttynose or an Abita, but again, maybe not for a wedding. Thoughts? And if you still think a craft beer, what would you suggest?

                1. re: jdf

                  Since you are in NYC, you have access to a few great local craft brewers.

                  I was just in Brooklyn a few weeks ago and tasted the Sixpoint Sweet Action on tap. If you could get a keg of that it would be inoffensive but an eye-opener. If you want to stick to bottles, I have a Smuttynose recommendation for you. How about the Shoals Pale Ale. Again, not too far out to offend but a very accessable, tasty pale ale.

                  1. re: brentk

                    Brentk,

                    If I could get the Sixpoint in bottles I definitely would have. I love the sweet action. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, its only by keg, and we need bottles. I will give the Shoals a look.

                    1. re: jdf

                      Smuttynose also makes a lager beer, which IIRC is a Vienna style.

                  2. re: jdf

                    I'd def. get something from Brooklyn Brewery. I think their beers are really approachable and well-balanced. The Lager is good, but another good one that would have wide appeal is the Pennant Ale.

                    Not to beat a dead horse, but with the craft brewing explosion there's increasingly little meaningful difference between import and domestic beer. In pre-craft brewing America this clearly wasn't the case, but now we have pretty much every style you can think of being made somewhere here.

                    Another beer you might consider is Victory Prima Pils. It's a Czech pilsner style, akin to Pilsner Urquell, but will be much fresher. Victory is in Pennsylvania, so you should be able to get that easily. Another good Pennsylvania beer is Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB. It's like an amber, very smooth and drinkable.

            3. I do not think you can ever go wrong with Heineken. Pick something that you will like, because Iam sure you will left overs, we did. I do not think it is necessary to offer 3 choices. Do it as you would at home, just have more on hand.

              3 Replies
              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                I agree that the OP will be drinking the leftovers, but the anti-Heineken movement is stronger than ever right now. There's really a huge backlash against it, at least amongst my peers and colleagues (late 20s- young 30s). I've heard many people I know say they wouldn't drink Heineken even if it was free (which it would be at your wedding). I think society used to look at imports as "better", but that's really changed with the wide availability of micros.

                If it was my wedding and I'd decided on three beers, I'd opt for styles over specifics. I'd like something lighter and refreshing, a la hefeweizen or an IPA that's not super hopped. Most macro drinkers would have no problem with either of these styles. I'd also choose something more substantial, perhaps a nut brown ale. Sam Smith's Nut Brown is delicious, albeit expensive. I'd finish up with a local porter or stout, since there are always dark beer lovers in every crowd. Plus, they're great with dessert. :)

                I don't know what's local to you in NYC, so I can't recommend specifics, but really, don't sell your guests short. What's the worst that can happen? The macro drinkers try something new, decide it's not for them, and switch to Captain and Coke.

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Amen, brother.

                  Brooklyn makes a delicious nut-brown ale that's quite affordable.

                  I was just at an event yesterday where the only beers on hand were Bud and Bud Light. I had wine instead. Times are definitely changing when it comes to this.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Or sister. :)

                    I'll have to check out the Brooklyn Nut Brown. My husband is a fan of their products in general.

                    You know, people always cry "beer snobbery!" when micro drinkers complain about lack of choice at events. But really, why is it snobbish to not want to drink something that has so little flavor, tastes skunky or has no distinguishing characteristics in general?

                    To equate it to wine, why would I waste my time with pinot grigio when Montrachet is where the flavor's at? I"m mostly a wine girl at heart, but the macro beer drinkers really befuddle me. In order to drink great wine, usually decent coin must be dropped. In order to drink great beer, it's usually only a coupla bucks extra! It makes me a bit jealous.

                    I s'pose I really should drink more beer.

              2. I absolutely agree with going for local craft beers. I attended a wedding this weekend where the only beers and wines provided were local, and they were a hit. When people travel for an event, most like to experience a "taste" of the region. Plus, you'll be supporting a smaller local business, rather than a mega-corp.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mojoeater

                  I also agree, we recently volunteered to provide the beer for a good friend's wedding. We chose a large mix of local craft beers in 12 oz bottles and they were a huge hit. People really enjoyed trying something local and new to them.

                2. I've tended bar for tons of wedding receptions. Considering that you'll be offering a full bar, wine and champagne along with beer, your guests will have a nice selection of drink choices. And you seem aware of the compromise needed when offering only three beers. I suggest, in the name of quality (and as a beer geek), to not offer a light beer.

                  Maybe do Yuengling Lager as the recognizable, approachable choice. Or Bud/Miller/ Coors if you want complete mass appeal. Next, a local pale/golden/amber/ESB ale. You've got plenty to choose from in the region that have been mentioned already like Brooklyn, there's Thomas Hooker in Connecticut and Flying Fish in New Jersey, the Philadelphia area breweries, or up into New England like Smuttynose. And lastly, maybe an German import that is recognizable. But, instead of a pils/lager, offer a hefeweizen which many people will know or at least be familiar. Paulaner, Hofbrau, Hopf, etc. although I don't know how many are available in 12 oz. bottles instead of the 500ml bottles.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: ultramagnetic

                    Since you mentioned the Smuttynose, what do you think of their hefeweizen?

                    1. re: jdf

                      I think hefeweizen is a great idea, and a superb substitute for the light beer you are contemplating.

                      I'm not all that impressed with many of the American craft brewed hefes, however, and I would recommend that you select a German - Weihenstefaner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Franziskaner would all make good choices.

                      1. re: jdf

                        I'm from California, so I've never had Smuttynose's wheat, only their IPA and Old Brown Dog. But I, like brentk, am usually not a fan of American wheat beers. A German hefe will not only taste better, but will have the stature associated by many with imported beer. And in the case of hefeweizens, that stature is deserved. Also, if you were to choose a regional craft ale and a wheat beer, it could make your beer selection less approachable to your guests.

                        Now I have a craving for Ayinger Brau-Weisse.

                        1. re: jdf

                          I'm just kinda skimming through the long discussion. I tend to vote local, local, local. But I realize that cost may be a consideration, too. If you're looking at imports at all, Paulaner Hefeweizen is hard to beat from a price and taste perspective (it's ~$13 for a 12-pack here). And another German beer brewed year-round that's very good is Spaten Oktoberfest. I realize it's a bit out of season, but it's a great 'bridge' beer between your basic pale lager and something more flavorful.

                          1. re: ted

                            Thanks. Cost will be a factor, but the Paulaner seems reasonable. I've had (and liked) Hoegaarden and Brooklyn Weisse. How does the Paulaner compare to those two, if you're familiar?

                            1. re: jdf

                              Hoegaarden is a witbier, which is a related, but different style. It will be lighter than a hefe, with some spicier elements from the orange peel, clove and coriander adjuncts with which it is brewed. Having said that, it would be perfectly accessible and enjoyable.

                              To me, the Brooklyn Weisse is just not up there when compared to the German hefes that were discussed previously. It is not a bad beer by any stretch but does not have the pronounced banana and bubblegum flavor that I expect in the real McCoy.

                              1. re: brentk

                                I find a lot of people really like witbier when exposed to it. It's irresistible.

                        2. re: ultramagnetic

                          "I suggest, in the name of quality (and as a beer geek), to not offer a light beer."
                          For quality and geekiness I agree with you, but my guests favor Miller Lite way more than Abita Turbodog or Amber. We always include a mass market light beer when we serve multiple beers at a party.

                        3. Your inclination to provide a selection of beers to your wedding guests is admirable. However, as you and others have alluded to, most of the folks at your wedding won't care what beers you offer. Because of that, cost should be your first consideration (unless it's not, and if that's the case good for you). I was married recently enough (5 years) to remember what an expensive headache the wedding planning and execution can be. Having enough Sam Adams or Brooklyn on hand to satisfy those among your guests who will care should be more than sufficient. As for the rest, get a beer (import or domestic) that's easy on the budget, but you'd be happy drinking (Peroni is a good example). Above all though, keep it simple and don't blow a bunch of cash on beer that will end up sitting half drunk in a hundred cups.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: FlaHopper

                            Well said. I do appreciate everyone's input on this, but being in the middle of planning things, I think your sentiments sum up the experience perfectly.

                            1. re: FlaHopper

                              Flahopper has crystalized the situation. This is a wedding witha wide variety of ages and drink opportunities. When drinks are free, no matter how well meaning your guests are, it is easy to put down half a drink and just get a full one a few minutes later or after dancing fro somthing a little colder. In this case let budget drive your choices.

                            2. What about Trumer Pils? It's an extremely accessible beer but still has a nice malt and hop complexity for the beer geeks. A great example of a pilsner. I'm not sure how the distribution is in your area, but it is available in bottles and tap.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: DougOLis

                                Haven't seen it in NYC, but that's not to say it's not around here. Where is it brewed?

                                  1. re: DougOLis

                                    I've become a fan of Trumer after having it at Neighborhood. I previously had it somewhere with unclean tap lines and it suffered greatly for it. It's a really nice, well-done pils. Since the OP is in New York, I think he'd be equally well served by Victory Prima Pils too.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      My first thought on the beer offerings was that when you are offering a full bar, the people drinking beer are either going to be beer fans or looking for something less alcoholic and quaffable after a cocktail or two.
                                      I will third the choice of the Victory Prima Pils.
                                      I love Anchor Steam and I think it would be a nice second beer offering, though I don't know if it travels well or at all to New York.

                              2. I couldn't discern when exactly your wedding was but have you given any thought to a seasonal beer, ie: a summer brew (Harpoon is my fave) , Oktoberfest, Winter etc.?

                                Personally, I love craft brews but this decision may rest on knowing your audience. My family and friends would riot if there wasn't Bud Light, to each his own I guess.

                                1. JDF -- what did you settle on? We recently got married and requested Bells Two Hearted Ale for both kegs. However, one of my husband's friends was quick to point out the high alcohol content of Bells and we swapped out one keg last minute for Miller Genuine Draft. I think beer novices were pretty excited to try Bells, but grateful to have the MGD to not worry terribly about hitting the road drunk.
                                  The only downfall was that the bartender clearly had no idea what Bells was. One of our guests asked her, and she looked lost. I jumped in and said it was a specialty brew from Michigan, but I imagine most people were curious and confused.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: chompchomp

                                    Well, we got bottles and we went with two local but widely distributed beers. Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn Weisse (thought it would be nice of an outdoor summer wedding). We also went with Coors Light as a default, despite some vigorous protestations on this board. Not surprisingly, the one that I thought the least people would know (Weisse) had the most left over. The Brooklyn Lager and Coors were polished off, though. As I'm sure you also found, its nice to have a good beer you like, but its also good to have a beer everyone knows and feels comfortable with.

                                    1. re: jdf

                                      I'm obviously really late to this discussion, but I thought I'd comment anyhow.

                                      When we got married last summer, we were able to customize our drink menu, and my husband took full advantage! Our bottles were Victory Golden Monkey (Belgian), Victory Whirlwind Wit, Southern Tier IPA, Brooklyn Lager, and Molson Canadian. Our kegs were both Sam Adams summer - can't remember which. Anyway, our guests ran the gamet in terms of beer tastes, but by the end of the reception, we only had one keg, Brooklyns and Canadians. By the end of the after party, it was just Canadians. So it turned out that people actually drank the craft stuff! And my brother (a life long Labatt's devotee) has converted to a Southern Tier and Victory lover - which I think just shows that people will probably drink just about anything at a wedding, and if you offer something new, maybe they'll realize they love it!

                                  2. I'm very late to this discussion, but in the same position (one year later) as JDF. I'm JDC, incidentally. I've also been given the task to set up the beer trio for my wedding in June 2009. Weddng is in Lexington, KY--both bride and groom (myself are originally from western Canada and will have many guests from Alberta at the wedding). Plan is to support local, provide interesting beers, but keep people at the bar comfortable with their choice between the three. I'm thinking a macro light (Coors Light), a micro/import with mass appeal, and a local (Kentucky Ale is brewed right down the street from the wedding, and is descent). My future bride and I have travelled many places and enjoy "drinking local." I just want people to think, "Cool!", when given their three choices.

                                    Beer will be served after dinner/wine. What is a good balance between choices: 1 light lager, 1 ale, and what else?
                                    Please help me in brainstorming/tweaking my list:
                                    Light lager (default/mass appeal): Coors Light, Sam Adams Light, Molson Light
                                    Ale: some cool IPA available in Kentucky, some of the other Ale's listed in the forum, Sierra
                                    Local: Hofbrau (Newport, Kentucky brewery), Kentucky Ale (Lexington, KY)

                                    Please give any advice, especially for the "Ales" section. My favorite beers are Bruges Zot (Belgium), New Belgium beers (Boulder, Colorado), Alexander Kieth's (Nova Scotia), Cremor Springs (Ontario).

                                    We also will be serving Kentucky's best kept secret with the largest in-state cult following of any soft drinker ever, Ale-8-One!

                                    All comments welcome. Thanks, Jeff

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Chambo

                                      Wedding is going to be small (~140). Talked with my fiancee and we're going to try to a local, a macro with mass appeal, and a fun one. Bottles.
                                      Local: Kentucky Ale vs Bluegrass Brewing Co, 1-2 cases
                                      Mass Appeal: Coors Light, 3 cases
                                      Fun (we both love our ski trips to Colorado): New Belgium's Fat Tire Amber Ale, brewed in Ft Collins, not Boulder, 2-3 cases (and will require road trip to Tennessee for bottle pick-up! If there's something more seasonal available--unlikely--we may go with that option).
                                      And, of course, Ale-8-One!
                                      Still welcome comments.

                                      1. re: Chambo

                                        For my wedding, Feb 2008 @ a Chinese restaurant in NYC we had Sierra Nevada pale as the main and then we had some Red Seal as well. No one complained.