Here’s the Buzz on Beer

Choose the right suds for your wedding reception with tips from a couple of beer experts.

Glasses of light and dark beer on a pub background via Shutterstock

Beer photo via Shutterstock

Everyone’s always worried about what wine to serve at the wedding—but getting your beer selection right should be just as important.

We tapped bar managers Nick Giannotti of Boston’s Tip Tap Room and Justin Lipata of Bukowski Tavern in Inman Square (both places are known for their impressive beer lists) about filling the bar at your wedding.

“Planning a wedding myself, I’ve heard [you should] listen to your instinct,” says the recently engaged Lipata. “You want to please the majority of your guests, but also cater to those distinct beer geeks that will be at your wedding. Have the recognizable stuff for Uncle Joe and Aunt Mae, but also bring in the stuff your beer geek cousin will talk about for ages after the wedding.” Since both Giannotti and Lipata recommend you offer five to six beer options, they offer these tips on how to decide on your selections. You might even choose a literal champagne of beers—and we don’t mean Miller High Life.

Beer 101: “All beers haves a multitude of flavors. Just like wine, you can pick up the most subtle flavors,” Lipata says. “IPAs have grapefruit, pine, and floral notes. Lagers can have a corn syrup taste with hints of grass. Stouts can produce anything from coffee to cocoa to a metallic tin. Belgians can have anywhere from banana notes to clove and bread notes.”

Serve Session Beer at a Long Event: “Session is a low ABV (alcohol by volume) style of brew that you can drink many of in one ‘session’ of drinking,” explains Giannotti. “It’s a light beer that won’t get people too drunk—for instance, a session pilsner from Notch or a session IPA such as Lagunitas DayTime or Founders All Day.”

“Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re not in college anymore, hopefully,” says Lipata. “Session beers also bring your craft beer palate alive.” He notes Notch Left of the Dial IPA, Ca L’Arenys’s Guineu Riner pale ale, and Allagash Session Brett as good choices.

Give a Nod to Local Brews: “Local and fresh is always better,”says Giannotti. “If you have good local breweries you can introduce to people who are either from out of town or just generally would never see it, that’s pretty cool.”

“Having local beer allows people who travel a different beer they can’t get at home,” agrees Lipata. “It also shows you truly do love the venue you picked because you’re carrying something local and you stand by it.”

Offer a Seasonal Selection: “Seasonality will always play a role,” says Giannotti. “In the spring/summer seasons, lighter, brighter styles are available compared to autumn and winter, where you’ll see more malt-forward amber ales, porters, and stouts.”

“Picking beers out for the season of a wedding is like picking out a dress code,” adds Lipata. “You’re not wearing a turtleneck to the beach in July, and you’re not wearing shorts to make a snowman in December. Season should come into play in availability and flavor. If I go to a wedding in April and see anything pumpkin, I will second-guess my relationship with the bride and groom.”

Consider Ciders: “Hard cider is a great year-round addition,” says Lipata. “When you don’t want the heaviness of a beer, but you don’t want booze or wine, cider is the perfect compliment. But stay away from the mass-produced sugar ones that will certainly give you a hangover. And stay small. Bantam Cider is amazing, and local to boot.”

Best Bets: “If there is one beer that would be good for any wedding, it would have to be Enlightenment Brut, or Bière de Champagne or Bière Brut,” says Giannotti. “The liquid is brewed in the method used to make champagne (slowly turning the bottles during warm bottle conditioning, using multiple yeast strains) by local brewer Ben Howe of Everett. What you taste is basically the beer version of champagne. Dry, complex, and effervescent, this is the perfect beer to toast the marriage between champagne and beer, for the beer lover at your wedding.”

“Weddings are usually for the masses. And the masses don’t know every style out there,” says Lipata. “Be approachable. Have a hoppy beer, a light beer, and a Belgian-based beer. In almost 20 years I’ve been in this industry, no one has turned down a Belgian white. It’s the perfect beer for a crowd of 200 well-dressed people.”

“Treat the beer choices at your wedding like you’re treating the dinner,” Lipata says. “Pay attention to it. It’s a reflection of you as couple and what you like to unwind with after a long day.” Cheers.


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