What Beer Is Right For A Wedding?


Yep, that's me three years ago. [Photograph: Eric Cable]



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Wedding season is in full swing. And while the bride and groom often can't serve exactly the beverages they'd hoped for (especially if the drinks selection is determined by the caterer or site), in an ideal world, a wedding celebration would be topped off with just the right bubbles and suds.

I went to a wedding a few years back that featured a mobile barbecue outfit, a bluegrass band, and a keg of local Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale. It struck me as perfectly fitting, a local beer to honor the community where the bride grew up—plus, it was totally delicious. I've also been to weddings where the homebrewing couple had crafted their own wedding brew, and the history of nuptial beer goes back a long way.


I've been thinking about all this because my anniversary's coming up, and because I recently tried Samuel Adams' new Brewlywed Ale, which they're releasing this Thursday in a one-day-only stunt that promises that people who appear at the brewery in full bridal attire will move to the front of the line to guarantee that they'll score a bottle. (One would hope so! It's kind of a pain to put on a tux!)

The scent is malty and tinged with butterscotch, but the beer is a bit drier than you'd expect, with orange and tropical-fruit flavor at the core, and a little spicy clove from the yeast. I think it would work well with nutty cheeses and even better with sandwiches—think grilled ham and cheese or turkey with chutney—but it had a little more noticeable alcohol flavor than I'd like.

Belgian tradition aside, at 8% alcohol, I think this 'bridal ale' isn't quite right for a wedding day. You don't want your guests wasted and belligerent (especially if they're expected to give a speech.) And you don't want the night to end early because your friends have all been lured into a boozy sleep.

Plus, not everyone's accustomed to drinking intense beers. Perhaps something lighter is in order? A hoppy option and a more approachable choice? What do you think the ideal wedding beer menu would be? If you're married, what beers (and other drinks) did you serve at your wedding reception?