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21 June 2011

Beer advice? I need to buy beer for our wedding. The reception will be wine and beer only. I'd like to buy from a local brewery for the beer, especially since we're doing local wine. The local brewery has a summer wheat beer, an amber ale/British ale, an IPA, and a "California Pale Ale." I'm thinking we could do amber, IPA, and wheat in equal proportions -- does that sound right? I'm not enough of a beer drinker to really understand what most people drink.
I think that's fine, and you don't even need 3- 2 contrasting selections will please 80% of beer drinkers and there's really no pleasing the other 20%. I'd go with the wheat (mild, light, fresh) and the IPA (bitter, crisp, a little darker). But if you want to add the amber that would be a nice 3rd alternative for people who prefer something darker but don't like the astringency of IPA.
posted by Miko 21 June | 23:30
With respect to wheat beers - Some wheat styles have a lot of "ester" notes which will taste like bananas. I don't find them enjoyable, and IMO they are difficult to pair with food. The fruity styles are usually European, and so an American brewery is less likely to produce that style. So for example, Anchor Summer and Pyramid are not very estery; Widmer is more so, but none are like the germans. Taste 'em to be sure you do or do not like the style.

Amber -> pale ale -> IPA are something of a continuum; an IPA will be an amber with more hops added to it. In the last several years it's been fashionable to make very very hoppy IPAs, which are a nice party trick but which do not pair reliably with many foods. Otoh, serving an amber without any refreshing hoppiness on a hot day is like a putting on a warm sweater. I'd choose a moderately hoppy IPA for any event before thanksgiving.

Lastly, it's dependent on the demographics & ages of your guest list, but don't underestimate the number of folks who may just want something like a Miller High Life. It is the Champagne of Beers, after all.
posted by Triode 22 June | 00:10
My issue is that I hate hoppiness, which I know makes me a bad beer drinker. So I'm trying to make sure I'm correcting for my own biases.

I tend to drink ambers most of the year, and wheats in the summer. The beers I'm looking at for the wedding are Firestone Brewery's Solace (wheat) beer, which I had the other day and really liked; DBA amber ale; and and Union Jack IPA. Maybe those brewery descriptions will help people who understand the details.

Also, the *vast* majority of our guests are wine drinkers. My aunt is a beer drinker and I know she likes wheat beers; my brother is a beer drinker and I know he likes IPAs. I'm pretty much just trying to make sure that we cover people whose tastes I don't know as well.
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 00:19
Oh, and the wedding's in August, outside in California, so figure hot-becoming-chilly for the weather.
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 00:21
Darnit, I linked the wrong commercial. Trying again. I mention the supermarket beers because that's what always goes first at our annual family reunion for the parents and grandparents generation. IME, folks who remember the Kennedy administration tend to want something yellow & fizzy.

I've liked every Firestone I've tried. The combo of wheat & IPA is a sound choice.
posted by Triode 22 June | 00:56
I can't speak to the particulars but I'll bet good money that, if you offer those three beers, a) no one will go thirsty, and b) any left over will be minimal.
posted by Ardiril 22 June | 01:01
Heck, you'll have some who will try each one.
posted by Ardiril 22 June | 01:01
Heh, love the ad, Triode.
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 01:10
Hating hops doesn't make you a bad beer drinker! Say it with me now. Hating hops doesn't make you a bad beer drinker!

As a beer fan who attends lots of weddings, I would be over the moon to have the option of 3 local beers at a reception. Even 2 would be nice. Given the setting, I'd say wheat & IPA.
posted by knile 22 June | 02:46
Listen to the Americans I guess. I'm a beer drinker, and love beer, with the exceptions of wheat beer and American IPA. American IPA drinkers like their beer a LOT hoppier than IPAs from other countries, I've found. I'd be drinking the amber.

But! my opinion is the minority and I think that the two beers are nice summery options.
posted by gaspode 22 June | 07:21
I'd suggest the wheat beer for people who like lighter beers, the Pale Ale for people who like something in the middle, and the IPA for people who like hops. (Yum, hops!)
posted by mudpuppie 22 June | 11:43
Those three beers comprise a good variety for your wedding (CONGRATULATIONS BY THE WAY!!).

The Union Jack Double IPA is one of the more mild IPAs I have had, so it is more family-friendly, so-to-speak; it retains the crispiness of an IPA, but isn't so deliciously bitter.

The Solace is a solid wheat beer, is very friendly to all sorts of people, and is perfect for summer. You may want to invest in some lemon wedges to go with it.

The Double Barrel Ale is fantastic, and is the Firestone flagship beer. I prefer IPAs in general, but would likely be drinking the DBA exclusively, I like it so much.

I think that you have chosen wisely.
posted by jabberjaw 22 June | 12:44
I'd suggest the wheat beer for people who like lighter beers, the Pale Ale for people who like something in the middle, and the IPA for people who like hops. (Yum, hops!)

Is the Pale Ale not an IPA? That's partly where I was getting confused. I didn't know if it'd be all hoppy or closer to a supermarket-style beer (but better).

It now strikes me I could probably go find samples and answer that myself...

Thank you all for your help, though. I'm feeling much more comfortable that having at least the wheat and the IPA, plus either the Pale or the DBA, will make most people happy. Which is the goal. So... woo!

(And thanks for the congratulations!)
posted by occhiblu 22 June | 18:39
Can you get Mac and Jack there? I know it's pretty much a North West thing. But it you can it's great stuff. Congrats are in order regardless.
posted by Splunge 23 June | 16:42
Pale Ale is not an India Pale Ale. I don't know why. I guess Indians like their beer more bitter and hoppy, etc. I think regular Pale Ale is mostly referential to the beer's color, as it is not amber and not brown. I think it is considerably more mild than an IPA (though not necessarily less flavorful).
posted by jabberjaw 29 June | 19:49
Thanks, jabberjaw.
posted by occhiblu 29 June | 20:31
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