One of the most important choices when planning your wedding is selecting the best beers for the big day. A well-curated beer selection can not only elevate the overall experience but also provide a talking point and cater to an array of diverse tastes among your guests.
But what kinds of beer should you serve, and how much should you buy? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll aim to answer these crucial questions. Below you’ll find a list of factors to consider when choosing beers for your wedding, recommendations on the best types of beers to buy, and an easy method for determining how much beer you should buy for your big day.
Choosing Beer For Your Wedding: Things To Consider
Choosing the right beers for your wedding involves more than simply picking your favorites. There are several factors to consider to ensure that your beer selection complements the occasion, appeals to your guests, and fits within your budget. Here are some key things to consider when buying beer for your wedding:
Know Your Audience
Before you start making selections, think about who will be attending your wedding. Are the majority of your guests casual beer drinkers or craft beer enthusiasts? Will there be mostly young adults at your wedding or elderly relatives? Obviously, the most likely scenario is that there will be a large variety of people celebrating your big day, however knowing your audience will help you tailor your beer choices to please the most people.
Your financial constraints will play a significant role in shaping your beer selection. Mainstream lagers are often the most budget-friendly option and can usually be bought directly from the supplier to make it even cheaper. Craft beers can be significantly more expensive, and the most expensive option would be to have a beer specially made for your big day (more on that below).
The season in which your wedding takes place can influence the types of beer that will be most enjoyable. Lighter beers are often favored in the summer, while heavier stouts and porters may be more appropriate for winter weddings. Seasonal beers can add a unique, timely element to your celebration and make the day more memorable for your guests.
If you’re serving a meal or heavy appetizers, consider how the beer will pair with the food. Some beers complement certain types of dishes better than others. For instance, IPAs can be great with spicy foods, while lagers often go well with lighter fare. You can consult with your caterer for suggestions on which beers would pair well with the food being served. Learn more about beer-food pairing.
Always check with your venue about any restrictions they may have on alcohol. Some venues only allow certain types of alcohol, have preferred vendors, or may even require you to purchase alcohol through them. To make sure there is no misunderstanding, it’s always best to get the alcohol-related rules in writing from the wedding venue.
Best Types of Beers for Weddings
A good rule of thumb when choosing beers for your wedding is to offer a selection of 3 to 4 different types of beer. This will cater to a variety of tastes without overwhelming your guests with too many options. Also, consider including at least one ‘safe’ option – such as a well-known popular beer like Corona Extra – as a go-to for guests who may not be adventurous drinkers.
Now let’s look at the different types of beer you could have at your wedding and the pros and cons of each.
Light beers are often a go-to for weddings because of their broad appeal. They’re easy to drink and are often lower in alcohol content, making them a good choice for events where people will be drinking over an extended period.
- Broad appeal to various palates
- Lower alcohol content for longer celebrations
- Versatile food pairing options
- May be viewed as unexciting by craft beer enthusiasts
- Not ideal for those who prefer richer, more complex flavors
Ales offer a wide range of flavors, from the lightly hopped to the dark and malty. Because of this variety, ales can please a range of guests and pair well with different types of food.
- Versatile flavor profiles
- Generally well-received
- Good food pairing options, especially with hearty meals
- Some subtypes may be too bold for certain palates
- May require careful selection to match the wedding menu
Lagers are characterized by their crisp, clean flavors and are the most widely consumed type of beer in the world. They’re easy to drink and pair well with a variety of foods, making them a solid choice for any wedding.
- Universally appealing
- Pairs well with many types of food
- Smooth and easy to drink
- Might be considered “basic” by beer aficionados
- Fewer complex flavors compared to some other types
IPAs (India Pale Ales)
IPAs are hoppy and can range from bitter to fruity. They’re a popular choice among craft beer enthusiasts and can add a modern touch to your wedding.
- Variety of flavor profiles, from bitter to fruity
- Pairs well with spicy or bold foods
- Popular among craft beer enthusiasts
- Bitterness may be off-putting to some guests
- Higher alcohol content may not be suitable for all-day events
Stouts and Porters
Stouts and porters offer rich, often chocolaty or coffee-like flavors. They’re particularly good for winter weddings and pair excellently with desserts.
- Rich and complex flavors
- Excellent for dessert pairings or cold-weather events
- Appeals to those who enjoy darker, heavier beers
- May be too heavy for summer weddings
- Not universally appealing, especially for guests who prefer lighter beers
Create Your Own Beers
But what if you want something truly unique for your special day? An often overlooked option for your wedding beers is to have one brewed especially for the occasion. I recently attended a friend’s wedding where they had a unique beer custom-brewed just for their celebration. They chose the type of beer, the ingredients, and even had special labels printed for the bottles.
Pros and Cons:
- Creates a unique and memorable experience
- Offers a personalized touch that reflects the couple
- Becomes an interesting talking point among guests
- Requires a larger budget and more planning time
- Risk of not appealing to all guests due to unique flavors
As mentioned earlier, the key to a successful beer selection is to offer 3 to 4 different varieties. For instance, at my friend’s summer wedding, the choices included a custom-brewed IPA, a light lager, and a pilsner lager (along with wine and champagne). This selection created a well-rounded variety that appealed to the majority of guests.
Popular Beer Brands For Weddings
Now that you’re familiar with the best types of beer to consider for your wedding, let’s look at some specific brands that are popular choices for each category. Whether you’re looking for a light and easygoing option or something rich and complex, here are some tried-and-true beers that are sure to please a range of palates.
- Bud Light
This is a crowd-pleaser that’s light and easy to drink. It’s a go-to option for those who prefer a less intense beer flavor. More About Bud Light
- Miller Lite
Slightly more flavor than other light beers, Miller Lite offers a crisp and refreshing option that still appeals to a broad audience. More About Miller Light
- Corona Light
With its beachy, summer vibe, Corona Light can add a bit of fun to your wedding, especially when served with a lime wedge. More About Corona Light
- Yuengling Traditional Lager
As America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling delivers a tried-and-true lager that offers a rich amber color and a balanced flavor. More About Yuengling Traditional Lager
Known for its slightly bitter yet smooth taste, Heineken is a popular international choice that’s generally well-received. More About Heineken
- Samuel Adams Boston Lager
A bit more robust than your average lager, Samuel Adams provides a blend of caramel and hoppy flavors. More About Samuel Adams Boston Lager
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
This pale ale offers a slightly hoppy but balanced flavor, appealing to those who want a bit more character in their beer.
- Newcastle Brown Ale
Known for its smooth and malty taste, Newcastle is a hearty option that pairs excellently with robust foods.
- Bell’s Amber Ale
With its combination of caramel, grain, and floral notes, this ale offers a complex but approachable flavor profile.
- Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
A balanced but hoppy beer that’s a favorite among IPA lovers, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA pairs well with spicy and bold flavors.
- Stone IPA
Known for its strong hop and citrus flavors, Stone IPA is for those who love a bold, assertive beer.
- Lagunitas IPA
Offering a blend of hoppy and caramel flavors, Lagunitas IPA is a more balanced option that appeals to a broader range of guests.
Stouts and Porters
- Guinness Draught
An iconic stout known for its creamy texture and rich, complex flavors. It’s particularly well-suited for colder weather and dessert pairings. More About Guinness
- Founders Porter
Rich and robust, Founders Porter offers notes of chocolate and coffee, making it a luxurious choice that’s great for sipping.
- Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Known for its dark, roasted flavors and medium body, Black Butte Porter is both complex and approachable.
How Much Beer Should You Buy For A Wedding?
Determining the right amount of beer to buy for your wedding can be a bit of a balancing act. Too little, and you risk running out, leaving your guests disappointed; too much, and you may end up with surplus beer that you don’t know what to do with. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a rule of thumb and some specific guidelines based on various guest counts.
Rule of Thumb
When determining how many beers to buy for a wedding, a general rule of thumb is to plan for each guest to consume about one beer per hour per person. Multiply the number of guests by the length of your reception in hours, and then consider the following:
- If beer is the only alcohol available, stick to this calculation.
- If you’re also serving wine and spirits, reduce the beer count by 30-50%.
Here are some examples based on a 4-hour reception:
(With Wine & Spirits)
How Many Beers for 50 Guests
If your reception lasts for 4 hours, you’ll need roughly 200 beers.
- Beer only: 200 beers
- Beer plus wine and spirits: 140-100 beers
How Many Beers for 100 Guests
For a 4-hour reception, you would need approximately 400 beers.
- Beer only: 400 beers
- Beer plus wine and spirits: 280-200 beers
How Many Beers for 150 Guests
For a 4-hour event, the count goes up to 600 beers.
- Beer only: 600 beers
- Beer plus wine and spirits: 420-300 beers
How Many Beers for 200 Guests
With 200 guests and a 4-hour reception, plan for about 800 beers.
- Beer only: 800 beers
- Beer plus wine and spirits: 560-400 beers
Obviously, this is just a rough estimate and should be adjusted for your unique circumstances. The actual amount of beer you’ll need can vary depending on factors such as the type of guests, the season, and the overall atmosphere of your wedding. Some guests might drink more, others less. It’s always wise to consult with your venue and caterer, as their expertise can provide a more accurate estimate tailored to your specific event.
Choosing the perfect beers for your wedding can significantly enhance your special day. Remember, the key to selecting the best beers is to understand who’s coming, your budget, and the season and venue. Aim for a range of 3-4 beer types to cater to different tastes and be sure to include a ‘safe option’ for less adventurous drinkers. Thanks for reading! May your wedding day be filled with love, laughter, and of course, great beer! Cheers!