Finding THE ONE

In Beer News by Ryan

Now, before you start thinking, “what have the guys been drinking that made them decide to dispense dating advice?”  This is not an article about dating.  For reasons beyond our control, the three of us have stumbled into awesome relationships with really great women.  And, therefore, we don’t know how to date anymore.

This article is about finding the right beer to serve at your wedding reception.  Years ago I would have been happy with whatever beer was provided, as long as it was free.  But that was long before I fell head-over-heels for craft beer.  And now that I’m the groom I can not, with a clear conscience, allow my guests to drink “fizzy yellow beer.”  Also, my soon-to-be wife and I would have to drink it too and there is NO way that was happening.

So, without further adieu, The Guys guide to choosing the right beer or beers for your wedding reception

  • Find a location that will allow you to bring in you own beer.  This was the only question I had when we visited three different locales for our reception.  Chances are, wherever you go, you will have the standard Bud/Bud Light and Miller/Miller Lite offered with the first tier bar package.  Go one higher and you get…Heineken.  So, even shelling out a few bucks more per person is not going to get you any craft beer.  If you want it you are probably going to have to bring it with you.
  • Just because you can get a keg of it doesn’t mean you should.  Would I be willing to shell out for a keg of Bell’s Hopslam or Three Floyds Dreadnaught to have it at my wedding reception?  You betcha.  Would I be standing by the time we got to the mother-son dance?  Nope.  When I first started shopping around liquor stores in Chicago I was overwhelmed with my options.  You name it and chances are someone can get it.  So how do you narrow things down?
  • Pick a style that you like and your guests will like.  I know, I know – “It’s my wedding reception and I’ll serve whatever the hell I want.”  But, let’s be honest, when that keg of German Rauchbier is only half gone are you — the groom — going to lead the charge to kill it before the night is over?  Not if you want to stay married longer than 24 hours you won’t.  So, how did we handle it?   Initially, my fiance and I decided on two styles; a wheat beer or lager for the masses and an IPA for us and our beer savvy friends.  Which, in the end, was paired down to one keg of an IPA.
  • But, there so many IPA/Imperial Stouts/Wheat beers out there, which one should I get? This may sound a little corny, but pick something that means something to you and your fiance.  When my fiance and I first started dating she lived in Lansing, MI and I lived in Chicago.  One weekend in Michigan we decided to take the short drive down to Dark Horse in Marshall.  The beer was awesome, the food was great and the people there were really cool.  In fact, anytime we are close to Marshall we make it a point to stop in to Dark Horse for a pint or three.  So, the first beer on the list was Dark Horse’s Crooked Tree IPA.  Now that we are both living in Chicago we thought it would be fun to have something local as well, so we chose Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter as our second beer.  As for the third choice, well, there is no emotional tie to Surly Furious but it’s a damn good beer so it made the cut.
  • Now comes the fun part – drinking beer to find THE ONE.  In order to do this I scoured to see if there were any bars in Chicago that carried all three on tap.  Success!  Risque Cafe on Clark had all three.  So, one Thursday after work, we strolled over there to pick the beer we would have at our wedding reception.  In the end, Dark Horse’s Crooked Tree won out over Daisy Cutter and Furious.

I am sure, for some of you, this seems like common sense.  But we went back-and-forth for months on what to serve at the wedding.  At first, because of the number of people we invited, we thought we would need two kegs.  Then, we trimmed it down to one.  Okay, now we need to decide what to serve.  Bell’s Oberon or Hopslam?  Metropolitan Flywheel Bright?  Half Acre Gossamer?  Three Floyds Gumballhead?  Some guys homebrew that a buddy was pushing?  The aforementioned Daisy Cutter, Crooked Tree and Furious?  They were all in the mix at one time or another. But once you narrow the focus then the job, and this can be a job, becomes much easier.

Hopefully these tips make one step of the planning process a little less stressful and also help keep “fizzy yellow beer” out of the hands of your wedding guests.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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