Thursday, May 19, 2011

Step 70 - Decide if you want Beer served for your Wedding Reception

(2 Months to 3 Months before the Wedding)
Beer has been closely betrothed to the act of matrimony for centuries. Even the biggest beer festival in the world started out as a wedding celebration. In 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the occasion in fields on the outskirts of the city.

As well as beer, there was eating, horse racing and other jolly japes. The event was so successful, the party is repeated every year lasting 17 days and still to this day over two hundred years later, the Oktoberfest remains the biggest beer festival in the world. The festival attracts more than 7 million visitors drinking Bavarian beer annually.

For centuries, beer has been the choice of weddings and has helped to make the occasion grand. However beer was banned in from the wedding British Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Many British commoners think banning beer from the Royal Wedding is British heresy. The Royal Palace stated that it is inappropriate to serve beer in the Queen's presence. It is the intention to give the British Royal wedding guests a sophisticated experience and so beer despite being Britain's national drink was given the royal snub.

In America, beer drinking is commonplace at many weddings. A very formal affair may feature hard liquor but wine and beer are served in addition. Weddings in which the budget is very tight, especially many outdoor weddings may feature beer as the main drink, beer can provide substantial savings on alcohol costs. Other weddings may feature wine and beer, and offer just a couple of signature drinks to reduce the cost of the wedding. The signature drinks sometimes are hard liquor drinks maybe a whiskey, rum, and liqueur drink chosen to match the color scheme of the wedding, but a percentage of wedding reception revolves around the beer.

When selecting beer for your wedding, the green choice is to support the local economy and to promote the local brew. Beer basically falls into two categories, ale and lager beer, the type of beer created in the beer making process is dependent upon the type of yeast used in the brewery. Many local breweries and liquor stores can sell you kegs or bottles of beer for your wedding reception. They may sell you a half-barrel keg which contains 15.5 gallons of beer which serves 200 wedding guests with 10 ounce cups. A quarter-barrel keg contains 7.75 gallons of beer and serves about 100 wedding guests with 10 ounce cups.

The beer experts state that 60% of your wedding guests are beer drinkers, you can count on your beer drinkers to drink around 4 to 5 drinks, about one beer drink per hour. The most popular beers in the USA are Bud Light, Miller Light, Budweiser, and Coors Light. Most Americans have taken to like light beer, they are light in body and low bitter taste. These companies represent about 95% of beer sales in the United States. These popular brands can be purchased by the keg or by the can or bottle. Usually bottles are preferred at weddings over cans because cans leave a slight metallic taste.

There are 1500 microbreweries in the USA. A brewery is considered a microbrewery if they produce less than two million barrels of beer per year and are less than 10% ownership by one of the major breweries. Most of these breweries sell their beer in bottles. A keg is the more economical route to go when purchasing beer for your wedding that is assuming none is wasted.

Usually when you get a keg of beer, you need to rent or buy a beer tap kit to go along with it. You will need a beer tap, Co2 Canister ( 5 lb standard), hoses (usually a clear tube for beer and a copper tube for air), hose clamps, Co2 Regulator, possibly a beer tower and a faucet wrench (basically hooks into small holes around the collar and lets you unscrew and screw the faucet). The copper tube is used to recirculate a chilling fluid to help keep the tap cold.

You will want the keg in some type of refrigeration, either a special keg refrigerator, a regular refrigerator, a special refrigerator cut with a hole in top to place a keg, or for an outdoor wedding sometimes a bucket of ice or ice and cold water is used.

There is an art to filling up one's glass with beer. The goal for the brewery is for the beer product to be in the same quality as when it leaves the brewery. For great draft beer, it must remain at a constant temperature of between 38-42 degrees Fahrenheit. If the keg gets too warm, it produces too much foam and creates a lot of waste. If the keg is too cold, there will be no foam and there will be too much beer poured into the glass.

A good bartender knows how to set and test the tap and knows the technique of pouring beer into a glass or stein. An inexperienced bartender can produce as much as 25-30% waste on a keg of beer at a busy wedding reception causing the owner's profits to go down the drain. The important thing at a wedding is, for whoever is handling the beer tap, they have mastered the technique of tapping the beer keg. It is preferred to set the beer keg under the bar table protected from heat and out of view and is in a convenient location to change the keg when empty.

There is a new "quick-fill" system that is taking the nation by storm and is expected to be common place over the next few years. These improved beer taps fill the beer glasses from bottom to the top, utilizing a magnet on the bottom of the glass. These systems have appeared at a number of sports stadiums and deliver beer quickly to sports enthusiasts and generate more beer with less foam. Expect to see these beer taps at wedding receptions over the next several years.

Some wedding couples decide to have beer tasting at their wedding and is fun and a great ice breaker for wedding guests. Beer tasting gives you the pleasure of exposing friends, families, and acquaintances to the rewarding world of beer diversity. Most taste testings are recommended to be in the latter part of the wedding reception or works great at an outdoor wedding.

Many people may say "I am not a beer drinker, I don't like the taste of beer". Many of these non beer drinkers change their tune after attending a beer tasting. Many people find a really good tasting beer, and benefit tremendously from a beer tasting.

There are four type of beer tasting themes: horizontal, vertical, blind, and holiday. Horizontal tasting is selecting beers of different styles around the world and has distinct color, taste, and strength. After each person sample the beer you give them beer facts on the brand of brew, what brewery made the brew, from what country, the beer ingredients, and historical tidbits.

A vertical tasting compares beers from one style, region, or brewer. The goal is to help find the type of beer the guest likes the most. The blind tasting may have the most appeal, it is a little work to host and manage, the bottles need to be hidden you might pour all the beers into unmarked pitchers and then about four ounces poured into clear glasses marked from 1 to 8 or 10. The guests take a drink from each glass and write down their observations on the taste test.

You want 8 - 10 marked spots or marked glasses to begin the taste test for each guest. They taste and smell the beer and write down adjectives how their taste buds taste the beer. The glasses should be clear wide mouthed glasses, plastic cups, or shot glasses so you can smell the aroma, see the color,  as well as the taste. A new taste test should be introduced about every five minutes. You don't want the taste test to go rapidly or the guests will be too saturated with beer to do the taste test well. You want to have a glass of water and munchies such as crackers, mild cheese, pretzels, fresh fruits, pates, or trail mix in between tastings. You should need 2 12 ounce bottles of beer for every 8 people.

Holiday tasting are basically serving seasonal beer. The beer tasting is geared to holiday events such as Oktoberfest, Christmas, Valentine's Day, May Day, or Independence Day.

There are many web sites that can help you collect information on beer. Research your beer at web sites like , , , , . Most breweries have facts on their own beer on their web site too. Another web site called can help you out with kegs and ordering keg equipment.

Have the wedding guests write down their thoughts after sampling each beer in the taste test. Some adjectives to use as a guide for a taste testing form are listed below.

Beer Taste Testing

Acetaldehyde - green apple, cidery or fresh pumpkin contamination from microorganisms
Acetic - aroma or flavor similar to vinegar usually contamination from microorganisms like Acetobacteria
Acidic - sharp sour flavor or aroma
Alcoholic - warming or hot and spicy flavor that can be prickly in your mouth high fermentation temperatures or excessive yeast in brewing
Astringent - drying, puckering, bitterness that is tannin like
Bacterial - moldy or musty
Banana - flavors and aroma somilar to the banana
Bitter - that sensation on the back of the tongue hops used in beer, malt used in beer, contamination from microorganisms, could be several different reasons that affect this component of flavor
Bland - beer taste with not much flavor
Burnt - having an overbrewed taste
Butterscotch - having a taste similar to butterscotch suckers
Chill Haze - no affect on flavor but makes the beer appear hazy proteins suspended in the beer
Clean - lacking in off and unpleasant flavors and aromas
Clove - herb like flavor of cloves unwanted yeast
Cloying - too sweet and or heavy without any balancing bitter or acidic qualities too much malt
Chocolaty - tastes like chocolate or cocoa mixed with water
Creamy - smooth mouth feel, soft and pleasant texture good carbonation
Crisp - acidic in a good way that is not over powering
Dank - moldy or fungus like
Diacetyl - butter, butterscotch, toffee flavors short fermentation, contamination from microorganisms
Dimethyl Sulfides (DMS) - cooked rancid vegetable flavor like broccoli or cabbage contamination from microorganisms
Dry - finish that is sharp and not sweet
Dull - not tasting any ingredients but may not tasting bad
Earthy - aromas similar to grass and soil, think farm like hops used in beer, usually related to hop aromas found in British beers
Estery - complex flavors ranging from fruity to spicy to flowery, these flavors are often linked to Belgian ales and wheat beers. caused by certain yeasts,high fermentation temperatures, fruit added to beer
Flat - stale, papery, or cardboard like flavors too much contact with air, high temperatures while the beer aged, old beer
Flowery - aroma like flowers hops used in the beer
Fruity - aromas like apples, pears, citrus, strawberries etc. caused by certain yeasts,high fermentation temperatures, fruit added to beer
Full-bodied - large and abundant flavors malt used in beer
Grainy - raw and grain flavor or cereal like malt used in beer
Grapefruit - just like grapefruit hops used in beer
Grassy - the flavor of chlorophyll, just like fresh cut grass, can be musty spoiled malt or hops, hops that were not dried correctly
Hazy - cloudy beer protein or yeast floating in suspension in the beer
Highly Carbonated - tastes similar to tonic water or carbonated soda
Honey - tastes similar to honey
Hoppy - is bitter from bittering hops including grassy, citrusy, earthy, tea like, etc.
Licorics - tastes something like licoric sticks
Malty - a full bodied sweet flavor to it
Medicinal - having one or many of these qualities: electrical fire, medicinal, plastic, listerine, band-aid, smoky, unwanted yeast or contamination from microorganisms
Metallic - aroma or flavor similar to licking a coin exposure to iron or aluminum or high iron in the brewing water
Musty - mildew and stale aroma
Nutty - flavors and aromas similar to various types of nuts
Oily - slick sensation on the tongue that feels like a coat on the mouth
Oxidized - flat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavors too much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Phenolic - having one or many of these qualities: electrical fire, medicinal, plastic, listerine, band-aid, smoky, unwanted yeast or contamination from microorganisms
Powdery - chalky or gritty in mouth feel
Roasty - has an aftertaste similar to coffee
Rose Like smell - flavor of roses from hops or as a product of some yeasts
Rotten - flat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavors too much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Salty - salt flavor on the sides of the tongue. use of too much salts during adjustment of the brewing water
Silky - smooth and soft texture on the palate often as a result of adjuncts such as oatmeal
Skunky - stale, skunk like flavor exposure to sunlight
Smoky - smoke taste in mouth feel
Solvent - like aroma like paint thinner, lacquer or acetone usually felt along the back of the mouth high fermentation temperatures,
Sour - acidic and/or vinegar like sensation on the sides of the tongue, can have several different characteristics, such as lemony, vinegar, or sharp contamination from microorganisms, intentional additional of lactobacillus as in lambics
Stale - flat, rotten, stale, papery, or cardboard like flavors too much contact with air or high aging temperatures, or old beer
Sting - sharp bite on the tongue carbonation, highly hopped beer
Sulphur - aroma of rotten eggs exposure to sunlight, contamination from microorganisms, random yeast infection, too much exposure to yeast
Sweet - sugary, noticed on the tip of the tongue a product of the malt ingredients, various adjuncts that are not fully fermented
Sweet Corn - has a sweet cornish taste and aroma
Syrupy - kind of a molasses texture and taste
Tangy - sharp impression on the sides of the tongue, not as intense as tart
Tart - intense acidic taste
Thin - watery or having little body
Toast - malt characteristic usually associated with dark ales and stouts
Toffeeish - has a hint tatse similar to toffee candy
Vegetal - flavors of cooked, canned or rotten vegetables such as cooked corn, cabbage or broccoli poor quality malt ingredients, contamination from microorganisms, or high or low levels of yeast
Vinous - an aroma or flavor suggestive of wine.
Winy - similar to wine with fruity aroma or flavor
Yeasty - yeast like flavor, think bread dough yeast still in suspension or beer sitting on sediment

Beer Color Test

Straw 2-3
Yellow 3-4
Gold 5-6
Amber 6-9
Deep amber/light copper 10-14
Copper 14-17
Deep copper/light brown 17-18
Brown 19-22
Dark Brown 22-30
Very Dark Brown 30-35
Black 30+
Black, opaque 40+

So if you want a Royal Wedding and be sophisticated remember to skip the beer. For an All American wedding you have got to include beer and if you decide on a keg of beer, make sure you have someone that knows how to tap and can pour the beer properly.

See you on the other side!

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