Top Five Local Beers for Your Fall Wedding Reception

Serving beer at your wedding? Avoid hoppy accidents with these top choices from 'beer czar' Geoff Thompson (along with two of our own faves).

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

As the “beer czar” (that’s bar speak for director of the beer program) at Foundry on Elm and Saloon, Geoff Thompson has poured over the concept of beer at weddings quite often.

“My biggest advice is keep it simple,” he says. “While serving good beer at your wedding should certainly be a priority, it’s not the only beverage that will be consumed. Keeping a streamlined list of quality beer is the challenge.” On the other hand, Thompson adds, “no matter how many quality beers you have available, your distant uncle is going to be mad if you don’t have a mass-produced choice, so pick up a 30-rack of the cheap stuff as well.”

Planning to serve beer at your wedding reception? Here are Thompson’s top five choices for local beers that are perfect for your fall New England party.

Newburyport Plum Island Belgian White Ale
Newburyport, MA

Belgian Witbier has become one of the most popular beer styles around the world. The soft, unfiltered texture, along with typical orange zest and coriander, offers a clean, slightly sweet drinking experience that’s approachable to the novice, or the hop head who is taking a break from the bitter. At 5.4 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) you can crush a few of these and not be too embarrassing with the in-laws.

Jack’s Abby Copper Legend
Framingham, MA

The fall chill in the air affects our palates, as we crave maltier beers and the subtle nuances of a well-crafted lager. Copper Legend is a Marzen-style lager, more popularly known as an Oktoberfest. The Jack’s Abby example is beautiful, medium-bodied with sweet bready malts that dance delicately on the tongue, and a toasty finish that keeps you coming back for more.

Peak Organic Hop Harvest Oktoberfest
Portland, ME

This beer is Oktoberfest in name only, but rather a refreshing take on the style. This is a showcase of the prime season for hoppy beer production, when the vines are begging to be picked and the hops are ripe and pungent. Rather than go the India Pale Ale (IPA) route, Peak Organic heaps up the malt backbone giving a full mouthfeel and a resin-y hoppy finish. This brewery is certified organic and non-GMO-certified, so it’s guaranteed to appease your hippie cousin at the wedding.

Smuttynose Big A IPA
Hampton, NH

Having an IPA on a good wedding beer list is almost as important as the wedding cake. This style has taken over the world, and hop-heads are the biggest demographic of the craft beer crowd. This beer packs a punch (there’s even a boxer on the label). The amount of hops in this beer will smack you in the face when you first put your nose in the glass. At 8.2 percent ABV, this is Smuttynose’s “Imperial” or “Double” India Pale Ale. This IPA is meant to be sipped and not chugged; every drop of this beer is a celebration of hops.

Mayflower Cooper’s Series “Standish”
Plymouth, MA

At 9 percent ABV, this beer is better as a nightcap amongst the groomsmen as the wedding is dying down. The style is an Imperial Stout, full bodied, dark as night, and as roast-y as a good espresso. The booziness will keep everyone warm as the chill creeps in, and the sweet dark malty notes will linger on the palate. This beer is super-limited, so grab some soon if you’re planning ahead.

Editor’s Picks

Harpoon Brewery’s Seaport Honey Saison is a causing a little local buzz around town. Made with honey from the Seaport Hotel’s roof top bees, this creamy beer has the aromas of banana, almond, and honey, but you can definitely serve it at your wedding if you hurry. With only 20 kegs available, their beverage director believes it will be only available for the next few months.

If you really love that dirty water, Harpoon has you covered once again with their new Charles River Pale Ale. Although they aren’t selling it in large quantities (they only made 18 kegs of it), send your guests over before the wedding or the following day to sample it for a limited time at Harpoon’s beer hall in their Seaport District HQ. It’s made from 300 gallons of water extracted from the Charles River, so it’s truly a “taste” of Boston.

If you’re forgoing the cake for a pile of donuts, why not follow suit with your beer choice? We are head over hops in love with Narragansett’s new Allie’s Donuts Double Chocolate Porter. A staple for Rhode Island sweet teeth, these donuts have been satisfying since 1968. And this is the perfect creamy porter to satisfy at your wedding.

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