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Long gone are the days of grabbing cases of Bud Light or Coors and calling it a day. As the craft beer movement continues to grow, we're seeing couples incorporate beer into their weddings in the most creative ways. But beyond serving brews in innovative ways (think beer flights and custom tap bars!), it's also important to remember what exactly you're serving guests. There are so many great options on the market right now, that with the right research, you can find a selection to match everyone's taste buds.
To help you navigate stocking your (beer) bar, we asked a few experts to give us the low down on the craft brew movement and how to incorporate it into your wedding. From what flavors to serve to how many kegs to buy, we have everything you need to know about serving beer at your wedding, below.
What to Serve
This will change depending on how beer-heavy you want your bar menu, but remember that it's always important to give guests options. If you’re serving a signature cocktail or a few wine options, you may not need as many beer choices. But if you’re all about the craft beer game and want to showcase your love of brews, you'll want to take multiple flavor profiles into account.
When selecting varieties, Rikki Welz from Iron Horse Brewery recommends starting with your favorite beers or beers that evoke meaning or have a history for you or your relationship.
Beyond that, you'll want to find craft options that will appeal to everyone’s palate. She says go for something lean and fairly light. “When considering beer styles for a wedding with folks who aren't insane beer zealots, the styles you want to look for are generally beers with light to moderate bitterness, light to moderate sweetness, and lower in ABV (6% or less, generally),” says Welz. “Think cream ales, blonde ales (with the low end of IBUs/hopping presence if possible), pilsners, and Mexican/Czech/German-style lagers.”
How to Serve It
Figuring out the right way to buy beer for your wedding has a lot to do with personal preference. So first consider how you like to drink yours, whether that's from the tap or in a bottle or can. Next, think about aesthetics. For instance, if cans make you reminisce about your college days, it may not be the look you’re going for on your big day. And, finally, think about the bar environment you want to create. If you plan on the dance floor being packed all night, glass bottles may not be the smartest choice. But the good news is this: For the most part, there isn’t a significant cost difference between kegs, bottles, and cans, so simply choose what you think will look and work best for you and your wedding.
How Much to Buy
Here, it's smart to err on the side of having a little extra. “A 1⁄2 barrel contains about 120 16 oz. pints—that’s a lot of beer!” says Norman. “If you plan on about one drink per hour per guest for a 150-person reception that lasts 5 hours, you’d need around 750 drinks." So that would mean, if you’re only serving beer, you could use up to six kegs or nearly 30 24-packs of bottles or cans.
While Norman admits this calculation may tend to be a bit excessive, especially since most wedding bars offer a variety of options, she says it's best to overestimate so you don't run out. Plus, you can always stock your bar at home after the wedding if you have extra!
Where to Buy It
It's possible to buy in bulk at your local craft brewery, but it may depend on your location and what the brewery is willing to do. So call around to check your options! Breweries will often let you buy cans and bottles straight out but make sure to ask about kegs, as that may be the most efficient option if you're planning to serve in high volume at your reception. “It is possible to purchase kegs directly, but we only service patrons who will pick up kegs in our taproom,” says Danika Norman, marketing manager for Bale Breaker Brewing Company. “We have many local fans who purchase our beer for their weddings and pick it up in the taproom day-of.”