The Drink Nation
Much to the delight of friends, extended family, and assorted co-workers everywhere, beer-centric weddings are one of the hottest trends in knot-tying today. Putting a bit of the focus on beer can give your big day a personal touch, create a fun atmosphere with many memorable opportunities, and, most importantly, help start your future off right. Beyond just having a keg or two at your open bar, how else can beer be part of your big day? Check out our suggestions, and let us know if you have more to add.
If you, your future spouse, or your friends are avid homebrewers, then creating a few gallons of the your favorite style is a great way to do something special. Not only will you have something unique and memorable, you’ll do it for far fewer dollars than buying commercial beer. This will allow you either to save money on the bar tab or — if you really like your guests — to provide more libations with the same budget.
When you decide to go with a custom brew, it’s a good idea to make the decision well in advance and check what your venue’s rules are on bringing your own. Also determine right away if you are going to offer kegs or bottles, as there are diffferent logistics to consider with each.
Just as the DJ will switch it up from "Brown-Eyed Girl" to Gloria Gaynor to "Loveshack," consider offering a few different styles. A range of options from malty to hoppy can please a wide spectrum of tastes and, even better, allow you to come up with multiple clever beer names. IDO IPA... Wedding Bells Two-Hearted.... Jill and Ted’s Ale-xcellent Adventure... the possibilities are endless.
Whether you go the make-your-own-beer route or not, you can still use custom labels to add a unique, crafty touch to your reception. Designs and names can be funny, classy, romantic — whatever suits the theme of the wedding. Bottles are one more surface where you can add your personal touch, and it’s easier than you may think. Most local homebrew shops carry label paper that is made for just such projects. Design, print, stick, boom. Everyone loves your wedding.
If you’re not prepared to label all 500 bottles your guests will crush in less than three hours, consider custom labels as either a part of a six-pack groomsmen/bridesmaid gift, a replacement for toasting-champagne or as part of the table decorations.
Bottles and labels aren’t the only beery elements that can add to your event. Depending upon the season of your wedding, brewing ingredients can be incorporated into your décor as well. Floral arrangements can subtly include grain stalks or even portions of hop vine.
Beverage napkins, coasters, or glassware can all be customized to highlight a theme. Glass table vases can be filled with barley or grains, and we all know a boutonniere comprised of roses and hops would delight mother-in-laws and father-in-laws alike.
While no one doubts its ability to get awkward relatives grooving, beer’s place at your wedding doesn’t just have to be on the dance floor. If you’re planning a multicourse meal, you can add thoughtfully chosen companion brews for not a lot of additional cost, especially if you were planning to offer beer at the bar anyway.
Take the time to work with your chef or catering service to come up with pairings, and you and your guests will reap the benefits. Doing a cash bar? No problem. You can still highlight a "recommended pairing" in a printed menu.
Why bring the beer to the people when you can bring the people to the beer? Wineries have long been a wedding backdrop, and breweries are now adding spaces to host events as well. A tap room may be the perfect venue, setting a fun and novel tone from the start. You know the beer is going to be good, and no one will accuse you of choosing a boring location.
Many brewery taprooms do not have kitchens, so do take the time to think about catering. Depending on where you live, food trucks might be another element to incorprate and make the night even more special.
Hoppily Ever After
Spanning time and cultures, beer has found its way into many a marriage party. How it will fit into yours is entirely up to you. It can be as elaborate as months of brewing, bottling, and graphic design or as simple as ensuring the hotel bar has an IPA option for your high-beer-IQ invitees. A great wedding is a celebration of the couple while their loved ones raise a glass in cheers. If what’s in that glass is more meaningful to the couple — all the better.
— Brandon M. Gallagher Watson, The Drink Nation
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