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Old 07-09-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
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Default Brewing for a Wedding?

Hey everyone, My sister has been engaged for a while and they finally set a date... last weekend in May 2009.

I've decided one of my 'gifts' will be to reduce her alcohol cost and start brewing 8-10 5-gallon batches of beer. (there will roughly be 75-100 people) I'm also currently making a mead for the couple personally... but that's another story.

I'm starting to plan what beers to make... it's harder than I thought and could use some input. I realize some beers take a while to make so I'll be starting soon.

Here's what I'm thinking:
1- some sort of cherry beer- yes this is a must.
2- a dark stout or porter with taste!
3- a lighter beer or some sort (appease those light drinkers)
4- medium beer, a Hefe or amber-ish beer.
5- Another beer?

- I will probably make two batches of each to make sure there is enough.

Would like some input as what beers to make? Maybe a nut-brown just before the wedding, because those mature fast...

Also do you think 8-10 5-gal. batches will be enough? Assuming I can find the bottles for this...

My setup right now is one big brew kettle, a smaller (2 gal) brew kettle, two 6.5 gal. glass carboys, two 6-gal plastic fermentors, and all the accessories.

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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What about some of Ed Worts Apfelwein? Higher ABV for the late night partiers, plus its fairly cheap to make.

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:26 PM   #3
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An ESB and/or a good Irish red ale

+1 on the porter with flavor!

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:30 PM   #4
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I am actually planning to do the exact same thing myself, except it's for my wedding. The first thing I did was decide what I want to brew. I plan to make a 1) hefe, 2) IPA, 3) porter, 4) light ale (maybe a blonde), 5) belgian (dubbel or trippel). The next step was to make a schedule based on how long each will need in primary, secondary, and bottles. I think I plan to start brewing in February 2009 for the September wedding, starting with the Belgian. I anticipate a similar number of guests, and am making quite a bit less beer, but then, we are also having wine (got some MOAM going too for the newlywed toast). That still gives me 3.2 bottles/person (at 75 guests), and that number includes children, so I think it's enough for my purposes. You may need more.

That's great that you're helping your sister out - wish one of my brothers would brew for my wedding! Good luck!

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:34 PM   #5
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Well (10) 5 gallon batches is 50 gallons. 8 pints a gallon and that makes 400 pints. Divide by 100 people and that's 4 pints a person.

So it depends - if they are having wine and liquor too that will probably be plenty as not everyone will be drinking beer. But if they only have beer it may not be enough. Some will probably have no beer, others will drink 3 times that amount.

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Old 07-09-2008, 05:43 PM   #6
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Is the wedding indoors or outdoors and will it be some place hot or mild?

Temperature is probably the biggest determinant of what people will choose to drink.

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Old 07-09-2008, 06:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
5) belgian (dubbel or trippel)
Great idea. Maybe that will be my fifth.

Quote:
What about some of Ed Worts Apfelwein?
I might do this as well. Cheap and easy... and from what I've heard, a smash hit. Maybe make it carbonated for the toast?

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An ESB and/or a good Irish red ale

+1 on the porter with flavor!
I've been having an itch to brew a red ale. I just might do that as well.

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Is the wedding indoors or outdoors and will it be some place hot or mild?

Temperature is probably the biggest determinant of what people will choose to drink.
It will be late May in the central midwest (Omaha). And I'm guessing it won't be 'too' hot, but I remember Mays in Omaha with high humidity.

Here's the updated list then:

1- some sort of cherry beer- yes this is a must.
2- Porter with chocolate? coffee? There's also talk of a "pirate porter" recipe somewhere on this forum with rum and coconut shavings...
3- a lighter beer or some sort (appease those light drinkers)
4- Belgian.
5- Red Ale (Irish).
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:50 PM   #8
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I'm also concerned about the timeline.

Brew the begian first?

Then any other one?

Which one will taste better aged more? The flavorful ones? or the high alcohol ones?

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Old 07-09-2008, 06:53 PM   #9
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You could combine a few of those and do a Chocolate Cherry Porter or something along those lines...

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:13 PM   #10
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I can share some recent experience, I brewed 20 gallons for my own outdoor wedding reception in April.

We went through about 16 gallons with 80-ish people, but we also had red and white wine (didn't get touched much, surprisingly) and 5 gallons of frozen margaritas (went through the whole batch of that, cause even April in Texas gets hot.)

I think even for 100 people, 50 gallons of beer is way overkill considering there will almost certainly be some exclusive wine drinkers, and there's usually a sparkling wine toast in the timeline somewhere to account for one alcoholic beverage per adult. But hey, better too much beer than too little. Personally I'd recommend leaving hard liquor off the menu, unless having that one family member caught on video sloppy drunk and crying/fighting/ranting is integral to your event.

I'd try to limit your total offerings to the number you can comfortably keep on tap simultaneously. You will not want to be constantly called away from friends and family to fiddle with the kegs, and if different taps start serving different beers midway you're just going to confuse the happy drunks. Do plan to make double batches of your more accessible beers since they're most likely to blow foam, in your case so far I'd say the light/blonde, the red ale and possibly the cherry.

I brewed 3 styles - a Belgian strong gold with honey, a nutty brown ale/ESB hybrid and a porter blended with home-roasted Kona coffee (which was the surprise hit.) I doubled up on the Belgian, and sure enough we ended the night with less than a gallon in the second keg.

You mentioned thinking about a coffee porter, I say go for it. It does double-duty as a dessert beverage, I saw more people drinking mine with the cake than were drinking the actual coffee we provided. Cake & beer, yum! Plus it gives you a great excuse to get into home-roasting coffee, which you can do with a $10 electric popcorn machine.

For mine, I brewed a fairly neutral English porter to a slightly higher than normal gravity, for a yield of about 4.5 gallons and at the low end of the hop spectrum (fresh coffee will add its own balance to the maltiness, even though it's not bitter.) At kegging time, I brewed the coffee in a French press and refrigerated it overnight, which brings some of the oils to the surface so they can be skimmed to minimize head retention issues. You can experiment with the blending proportions this way, and avoid blowing off too much coffee aroma in fermentation or over-extracting bitter compounds from grounds. I found that about 4.25 gallons of beer with half a gallon of strong coffee hit the spot for me, in terms of flavor and FG.

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