HomeBrew at Your Wedding, Great Concept!!

 

I brew! Weddings bring out the beer-zillas in these grooms

Beer made John and Ashley King’s wedding even more special.

John King had dreamed about the beer he’d homebrew for his wedding since the night he proposed.

“I dropped to my knee under a streetlamp in the snow — my wife reminds me we were right next to a dumpster as well — when I popped the question,” he recalled. “We then grabbed a drink, made some phone calls, and started talking about wedding plans and discussed how making beer for the occasion would be pretty cool.”

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something … brewed? That’s the motto for a growing number of grooms, and even a few brides. Homebrewing is becoming a big deal — the Homebrewers Association estimates there’s more than one million homebrewers and over 1,000 homebrew clubs in America. And if you search the homebrewing forums on Reddit or Homebrew Talk, you’ll find plenty of threads asking for advice about what to brew for a wedding.

If I was a huge beer geek back when I got married in ’98 (I wasn’t) and I could homebrew to save my life (I can’t), I too would have brewed my own beer for my wedding. My future wife would be fussing over her dress, and I’d be fussing over beer styles. She’d be making up the guest list, and I’d be sorting out the grain bills. She’d be picking out flowers while I was out picking hops. By the time we said our vows, the energy I’d expended on beer would probably match what my bride spent arranging the rest of the wedding.

And I’d get started right away, just like King did. The day after he proposed, he cooked up a clone of Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught IPA, which he dubbed Ball n’ Chain IPA. It was followed by a blueberry beer named Something Blue-berry Ale and a steady stream of other brews over the next year, some of which turned out great, others that didn’t turn out at all (these just happened to be the styles that his fiancée requested).

King, who writes for LouisvilleBeer.com, would set aside a portion of every batch he brewed that year, stocking up for the big day. In the end, he amassed enough beer for the rehearsal dinner, for sipping on the Louisville trolley and for the wedding party at the reception. His homebrew was supplemented by local offerings from New Albanian Brewing Company and the Bluegrass Brewing Company, making for a pretty tasty affair.

A guest gets a taste of one of eight brews Evan Burck concocted for his wedding.

But King’s suggestion to visit Dogfish Head’s Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach after the wedding didn’t get such a warm reception. “I seriously asked my wife if we could go there on our honeymoon, but she didn’t think it was really that funny,” he lamented.  For the record, he wasn’t kidding.

Evan Burck, an avid homebrewer from Washington state, never questioned if he’d brew his own beer for his wedding. “Being that brewing was one of the biggest things in my life, and there would be beer at the wedding, it just made sense from the get-go,” Burck said.

Like King, Burck’s wife left the brewing up to him. “She wanted this to be my thing,” he said. “I brewed eight beers: My Summer Lager, Pale Ale, Munich Dunkel, Double IPA, Coconut Porter, a Brettanomyces raspberry funky Belgian, Saison and a Belgian Dark Strong. I wanted the lineup to cover a wide range of flavors. I don’t think I could have done a wider range than that!”

Burck put in a ton of work to bring his beers to life. “Each brew day was at least five to six hours of work alone, so times that by eight,” he said. “Then all the kegging, bottling, and other efforts that came later.” When I asked him to tally up all the hours he put into brewing and presenting his beers, he responded, “Honestly, I can’t even begin to estimate.”

Two brews from Evan Burck’s wedding beers collection.

And he painstakingly ensured the brews were dressed up for the occasion.

“I put together a six-tap jockey box that I covered in hop vines I cut myself,” he said. “Each tap had a framed, printed description of each beer under it. The Saison and Belgian Dark Strong were both bottled, and I used artwork from our wedding invitations to decorate the labels.”

In the end, Burck brewed 30 gallons of beer that were served in kegs and about 20 large bottles of the Saison and Belgian Strong Dark. That’s a lot of beer for 50 people, but it was all gone in the end, a testament to just how much his guests enjoyed his brews.

“I’d say they’re the best eight beers I ever brewed,” he said. “I was certain that with eight beers, there would be some disappointments, but it seems that everything I’ve done since gets compared to the quality I achieved for my wedding beers.” That sounds like homebrewer’s dream wedding to me.

“If you’re a brewer and marriage is in your future, I can’t recommend it enough,” Burck said, adding that even those who are married should consider brewing for special occasions.

 

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