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Old 10-05-2009, 09:38 PM   #1
DRoyLenz
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Default Logistics behind brewing A LOT of beer...

So, two of my best friends are getting married, and they requested that I brew up a bottle of beer for each of their guests at the wedding. They have not finalized the guest list, but they are shooting for 150 guests (I think).

To me, that sounds like I need to make 3-4 batches. Now this is my wedding present to them and funds are a bit tight right now, so I'm thinking of using this as an excuse to move on to AG brewing, so that I can keep prices down. I will probably be using DeathBrewer's stove top method (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy...ng-pics-90132/), or perhaps invest in a turkey fryer (30-Quart Outdoor Turkey Fryer).

The wedding is not until August 7th, 2010, so I have time to plan and execute. I have a few questions to people who have done something like this in past, or just know whats going on.

- Do you guys have suggestions on a couple of recipes I could use that would be widely accepted? Ideally, they would use similar grain bills so that I can order more in bulk.

- Does anyone know of a good HBS that I could order from that would sell bottles on the cheap? From my research, the cheapest I'm finding is $0.50 a bottle.

- From someone who has never done AG, but has some very drinkable extract brews under their belt, how many AG brews would you think I would have to practice with before making a beer I would feel comfortable distributing to the masses?

- Does anyone have a recommendation on a place I could find a quality, but not pricey turkey fryer?

I'll probably have a few more questions in the near future, but this post is already way longer than I wanted it to be.

Thanks in advance guys!

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Old 10-05-2009, 09:44 PM   #2
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craigs list for bottle and turkey fryer put up a want to buy.

Like this http://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/for/1396661749.html

Do a nice APA I can do EdWorts for under $15 a 5 gal batch using
http://countrymaltgroup.com/ for the grain
http://www.hopsdirect.com/ for the hops

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Old 10-05-2009, 11:30 PM   #3
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Make some brewing friends and enlist their help. If you were in my area I would lend out my equipment; I am sure you can find generous people in your area.

For bottles, get on craigslist and look around. Otherwise go to bars and talk to the manager to see if they will save them for you.

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Old 10-05-2009, 11:36 PM   #4
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This doesn't answer your questions, but make sure they mean 150 attendees and not 150 invitees. That makes a big difference. Are they inviting 150 people or are they inviting 200 to 300 and expect the attendee rate to end up at about 150? 150 attendees is a fairly large wedding. Also consider that not everyone drinks beer. Are you going to give beer to them anyway or do you think they'll have the option to decline the beer party favor?

Oh, actually I can answer one of your questions - I wouldn't buy bottles. Go to a recycling bin at an apt complex, collect a bunch and soak and delabel them with PBW. Since saving money is a concern, recycling bottles is one of the easiest ways to save money.

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:25 AM   #5
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Man, stovetop? I mean, I brew on the stovetop, but if I were trying to put together that much beer and want it to taste consistent across all the bottles, I'd try to find a bigger setup to brew on for that purpose. Not necessarily buy a whole rig, but maybe find someone locally who will let you brew on their rig in exchange for some beer or whatever.

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Oh, actually I can answer one of your questions - I wouldn't buy bottles. Go to a recycling bin at an apt complex, collect a bunch and soak and delabel them with PBW. Since saving money is a concern, recycling bottles is one of the easiest ways to save money.
+1 on this, there should be no reason to buy bottles if you have that much time. One thing I do is just ask my friends to save me their pop-top bottles, and then I take them off their hands every once in a while. It only takes a few beer-drinking friends for the bottles to quickly add up.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:52 AM   #6
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I did the same thing - making beer for friends' wedding as my gift, and moving to AG, as my gift to me... I made 20gal for an 80 person wedding that's actually this weekend. Only I kegged instead - the idea of bottling 20gal into bottles wasn't exactly thrilling.

After the upgrade in equipment to do all grain, it would've been cheaper for me to do extract. Maybe in a few years, I'll have saved some money by having gone all grain. Oh well, I'm not sorry about it, and I'm definitely glad I did it. (It took me like 3 batches to really get it right though.)

Good luck.

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Old 10-06-2009, 01:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRoyLenz View Post
They have not finalized the guest list, but they are shooting for 150 guests (I think). To me, that sounds like I need to make 3-4 batches.
Your friends must drink far less than mine. One batch is about 50ish servings, so you're assuming everyone drinks one beer?

In my experience, in wedding type situations only about half the people will drink, but those that do will drink about 3 beers apiece. Assuming you bring more than one style of beer, you'll probably want more like 250 beers there.

Try this calculator http://www.evite.com/pages/party/drink-calculator.jsp. It will calculate how much beer you need, and appropriately reduce the amount if you also have wine and/or liquor. But just be aware that when it asks for the number of drinkers, it means drinkers, not guests!

In any case, I don't think three batches will be enough unless there's domestic bottles around as well. If you're going AG, buy big, and for low gravity beers you could do 10 gallon batches.

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- Do you guys have suggestions on a couple of recipes I could use that would be widely accepted? Ideally, they would use similar grain bills so that I can order more in bulk.
Most of your grain bill will be base malt for virtually every beer, so don't stress the bulk too much. The price difference between hops by the pound and hops by the ounce is enough that I'd really try to get similar hops in most of the beers and buy those in bulk.

Low gravity beers with mild flavor (light pale ales, etc) are popular in non-beer geek crowds. Hefes are also popular. The dual advantages of these beers are people get less drunk, and they cost less to make.

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- Does anyone know of a good HBS that I could order from that would sell bottles on the cheap? From my research, the cheapest I'm finding is $0.50 a bottle.
You've got a year -- start telling friends to save bottles and give them to you. Or, consider buying some kegs and building some jockey boxes. Much easier to transport, much less time spent bottling...

Quote:
- From someone who has never done AG, but has some very drinkable extract brews under their belt, how many AG brews would you think I would have to practice with before making a beer I would feel comfortable distributing to the masses?
Depends how quickly you learn from your mistakes.... At least two. Honestly, none of my early AG batches tasted bad. But they were stressful and things went wrong and I had to improvise... Not good if you're making a LOT of beer in a tight schedule.

Quote:
- Does anyone have a recommendation on a place I could find a quality, but not pricey turkey fryer?
Amazon?
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:51 AM   #8
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Just make sure if you are thinking that you will be serving your beer at the reception that the venue is legally allowed to serve a home made alcoholic beverage. I was thinking about brewing for my wedding, but was told that the bartenders could not legally serve something that they were not certain the alcohol content of.

Otherwise, my advise would be to make more than you think you'll need. There is always an afterparty...

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Old 10-06-2009, 02:32 AM   #9
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Last month I supplied beer to two weddings (one for a friend, other for a cousin). Since both weddings were back to back weekends, I had to stock up on beer well in advance. I brew 10 gallon batches and ended up bringing 20 gallons to each wedding. To stock up 40 gallons I had to buy more cornies and double brew several weekends.

The second wedding was catered by a local restaurant and they told us in advance that they had no problem serving our homebrew. The reception was held on the property of the bride's family, so legally this might not be the same as if it was held in a rented hall.

All of my beer for both weddings was served out of cornies. A combination of a keggerator I brought and picnic taps. This saved a lot of bottling. Both weddings had other beer/wine/liquor being served, so my 20 gallons was just a contribution (one wedding was 60+, other was 100+). Each wedding drank all the beer I brought, I had nothing to bring home.

So now on to the types of beer I brought. Originally I planned to bring an assortment of beers to each wedding, but I ended up bringing mostly lighter colored beers. I didn't bring any stouts or porters since my experience has been that a lot of BMC drinkers are immediately turned off by the darker color. My American Wheat is always a big hit with the non-craft beer crowd, so that was half of the beer for each wedding (60/40 wheat/pilsner malt). Simple, cheap, always good. I also brought a keg of pale ale and IPA.

If I could do it again, I might have brought a stout to each wedding since with that many people there were bound to be enough drinkers to at least put a serious dent into that keg. And it would have shown everyone that I CAN brew other types. But overall, I was happy with how things went.

My recommendation would be to buy equipment for 10 gallon all-grain batches. Its only a bit more expensive to buy and will save you a lot of time. And chances are, you'll probably want to do some 10 gallon batches again at some point in the future anyway. When the time comes, brew up two batches of the same beer, whatever you decide on, then bottle them both. That's roughly 200 bottles which is enough for you to sample and share 50 leading up to and after the wedding and have 150 for the guests.

Most of your other questions you had have already been answered. I say start accumulating equipment for 10 gallon brewing and get a few under your belt. Using the same grain bill and equipment, you shouldn't have too much difficulty making two beers back to back that are very similar. Good luck!

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Old 10-06-2009, 02:43 AM   #10
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If you're brewing for 150 people, that's a large enough crowd that you should shoot for a recipe that caters to the lowest common denominator (to which about 40% of the population will belong).

Low hop aroma.
Light color.
On the fizzier side.
You can boost the ABV for added character but make sure to ferment cool to prevent alcohol "heat".

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