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A Craft Celebration: How to Incorporate Craft Beers Into Your Wedding

Minnesota’s craft brew boom inspires a new spin on wedding-day beverages.

For years, we’ve seen the trend in wedding-day consumables lean toward personalization, from chef-driven menus inspired by the couple’s love of Italy to a signature cocktail reflecting the bride’s favorite fruity concoction. For the avid beer drinker, why should it be any different? Brides and grooms can toast with a glass of Lift Bridge chestnut brown or Lucid Dyno American pale ale just as handily as they can with a flute of champagne, and many are choosing to do so.

Craft Brew Bandwagon
With the boom in the local craft beer industry, Missy Smith of Common Roots Catering has seen a noticeable rise in requests for local beer, and bar options now include big names like Summit and Schell’s, but also newer favorites like Flat Earth, Fulton and 612Brew. And the requests aren’t just coming from the groom. “Beer was once about guys watching the football game,” she says, but now many couples are enjoying it together and even home-brewing together; there’s no longer a gender beverage barrier. To further embrace the movement, Common Roots’ menu now includes items like bite-sized pretzels dipped in homemade hot cheese sauce, butler-passed with a shot of beer.

Common Roots Catering is not alone. Sarah Trotter of Lasting Impressions Weddings says many caterers and venues are as much on the craft brew bandwagon as the couples who are hiring them. The staff at Aria, whom she works with frequently, will help source beers even when they aren’t on the menu. (As with any venue, be sure to ask about availability and cost of your favorites before you close the deal.) One of her clients was set on serving a beer from Bent Paddle brewery in Duluth, which is only available in cans. Aria brought in the beer, and the couple ordered custom-printed beer cozies in their wedding colors to enhance the presentation.

Aria bar manager Kelly Preslicka says a beer station can help draw in guests by setting apart the beer menu from the rest of the bar. Obviously, bottles can be set up on the bar to highlight what’s available, but creative signage like a chalkboard menu or a printed beer list in an elegant frame can make it more personal. Mason jars and personalized pint glasses can be used as alternatives to standard glassware. To further engage guests, Amy Zaroff of Amy Zaroff Events + Design suggests printed tasting notes to be filled out by guests as a takeaway or printed napkins that share the story behind the beer.

Choosing the Menu
When it comes to devising the list, Zaroff says clients often choose beers that are personal favorites, like a beer from the town where the bride or groom grew up or went to college, or the one they drank on their first date. It’s also wise to consider your audience so you won’t end up with too much leftover beer. “Since there are many people who are ‘sort-of’ beer drinkers that only like one type of beer, make sure you offer at least one easy drinking option such as a pale ale or a lager,” says Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects. As another option for guests, add a stronger amber beer. She recommends staying away from stouts, which are heavy and tend to be less of a widespread favorite.

Kegs, even if allowed by the venue, don’t offer much variety so if you want to offer more than one beer choice, Mazumdar recommends bottles, which can be arranged in interesting displays, like a canoe filled with ice. Growlers can be purchased directly from smaller local breweries as an alternative to kegs (check to see if your venue allows them), and smaller pours of beer can ensure that guests are able to taste them all. Empty growlers can also be used for centerpieces to underscore the craft brew theme.

Taking it to the Brewery
The seriously beer-minded might want to consider holding their event in a local brewery’s taproom. With an amphitheater for ceremonies and entertainment, 612Brew’s space can accommodate up to 200 guests. Fulton Brewery’s taproom can be reserved for smaller private events of up to 100 (plus 65 on the patio) on days when it’s not open to the public. At most taprooms, you’ll need to bring in an outside caterer or hire food trucks, as one couple did for a Labor Day wedding at Fulton, where Vellee Deli dished out Asian fusion fare and Sonny’s Ice Cream scooped out 15 flavors, including a Fulton Lonely Blonde ice cream. Surly Brewing will unveil a 135- to 175-person event space as part of its new destination brewery in early 2015, and will have an executive chef in house to handle food for private events. If you choose a taproom as your wedding-day site, keep in mind that, by law, you can only serve alcoholic beverages produced by the brewery itself, which rules out wine and hard liquor.

No matter how you weave your favorite beer into your wedding celebration, the best part is when you get to sit back and enjoy a glass for yourself. With so many fun ideas to express your love of brew, we’re sure your guests will feel the same way. 

Beer-Inspired Favors
Hop candies Guests can enjoy a sweet candy with a touch of bitterness that comes from real hops, minus the alcohol. northernbrewer.com, with retail locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis
Beer cozies Colorful printed beer cozies add a personal touch to the can or bottle, and can be saved for later use. customink.com
Personalized pint glasses Guests can sip from pint glasses printed with the name of bride and groom, wedding date or a fun image, and then take them home at the end of the night as a keepsake. Logo glassware from a local brewery is another option. nicepricefavors.com
Take your own sixpack Order beer through your local liquor store and set up a takeaway station with mix-and-match sixpacks. Be sure to wait to set up the station until the end of the night so guests don’t start cracking them open on the spot. Check with a local liquor store that sells your favorite beer.
Custom-printed napkins Personalized wedding napkins can help “advertise” the beers being served. Mark the bride or groom’s favorite or include a few words about each one. epitomepapers.com; 952.920.2978

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