Hop To It: Brewery Wedding Venues

Move over, ritzy ballrooms and country clubs - breweries are finding their way into the hearts of couples across Minnesota.
From: Spring/Summer 2016 edition

It’s no secret that the craft beer scene has made its mark on Minnesota. From quaint taprooms serving selected drafts to full-fledged brewpubs whose savory dishes pair perfectly with what’s on tap, there’s something for every beer devotee. And now brew-lovers’ watering holes are becoming more than just their favorite weekend hangout: They’re wedding venues, too.

Locally Loyal

“Obviously, if you’re a beer lover, then it’s the ideal venue,” says Gretchen Culver, owner of Rocket Science Weddings and Events in Minneapolis. “It’s a way to infuse your personality into a venue in a major way—it’s not the cookie-cutter ballroom. Couples are looking to do something different for their guests.”

The personal stamp of each couple is more present than ever at weddings—from the location of the engagement photo shoot down to the dessert station at the reception, each detail is handpicked and tailored to the couple’s personality. And for couples who bond over the taste of a freshly poured craft beer, a brewery wedding may be the perfect match.

“People are valuing the local geography and are more fond of where they’re from,” says Culver. “It’s a fun way to do something unique with local ties, and the craft beer movement has turned many casual beer drinkers into beer enthusiasts.”

But don’t let the idea of a beer-soaked brewery wedding deter you—many breweries will happily accommodate non-drinkers or those who simply don’t care for the taste of craft brews.

“We can work with any caterer and make it simple so that the couple and their guests simply show up and enjoy our delicious brews,” says Erin McQuay, promotions coordinator at Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater. “And for non-drinkers, we make a delicious handcrafted root beer.”

For one Minnesota bride, a brewery wedding was the only option. A passion for beer paired with the fun-casual vibe of a brewery complemented Shorey Tuetken and her fiancé’s relationship perfectly.

“We had talked about doing food trucks, and we’re big on the beer scene in the city, so it was really something I wanted to incorporate,” says Tuetken, who married Phil Tuetken last June.

Although there’s no shortage of breweries and taprooms in Minnesota that host weddings—Insight Brewing Co., LynLake Brewery and Town Hall Brewery to name a few—Shorey and Phil knew exactly where they wanted to celebrate their nuptials.

“Bauhaus Brew Labs was always the front-runner,” says Tuetken. “It’s one of the biggest breweries by far, and the mix of indoor and outdoor space really appealed to us.”

And lucky for beer lovers, Bauhaus isn’t the only venue in town where you can mix hop-filled goodness with wedded bliss.

Brewery Bonuses

“Weddings at Surly are going to be different than at any other brewery,” says Andrea Graham, events director at Surly Brewing Co. “We have our own kitchen, our own events team, furniture, linens, food and, obviously, beer. We set it up so it’s a lot of fun—we just want couples to have a good time and not worry about the details.”

Surly Brewing opened its doors to a brand-new location nestled in Minneapolis’s Prospect Park in December 2014 and began hosting weddings in their 2,400-square-foot event space, Scheid Hall, starting in March the next year. After just six months, the brewpub had hosted 10 weddings.

Not only does Surly offer a full menu carefully curated by executive chef Jorge Guzman—formerly executive chef of Solera—but the brewpub also has an in-house pastry chef, Joanna Biessener, whose delicacies happen to include wedding cakes.

“We have the freshest cakes, mini dessert buffets, and we can get really creative,” says Graham. “We make sure we work with our couples to have everything that reflects them and their personalities.”

Bauhaus Brew Labs, which opened its Northeast Minneapolis digs in July 2014, offers a similar approach and is able to evolve into whatever type of space the couple dream up.

“Bauhaus is a blank canvas for people to work with,” says Maura Hagerty Schwandt, events marketing and communications manager. “It’s a pretty no-frills venue, so it’s ideal for the laid-back bride.”

The blended indoor-outdoor space is blanketed with natural light, brick walls and high ceilings, with twinkly lights strung above the patio, which includes a mix of orange and blue metal stools and chairs.

“Our place is just big and bright, and we get awesome natural light,” says Schwandt. “Couples don’t need to go too crazy with the décor because our space already has a really cool vibe to it.”

A similar space is available at Day Block Event Center, above Day Block Brewing Co. in Minneapolis. The second-floor space, which was renovated in 2006, couples brick walls with wood floors, and boasts 10-foot windows overlooking U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings’ soon-to-be-home.

The floor includes three different rooms: the East Room (2,100 square feet), the North Room (700 square feet) and the South Room (900 square feet). You can rent each room separately or go with the entire floor.

“The architecture of the building is just beautiful,” says Kassie Harrison, event agent at the center. “If a couple is looking to have both the ceremony and reception here, I encourage couples to rent out the taproom [downstairs], too.”

 

The Fine Print

“Because we’re a manufacturer of alcohol, we’re only licensed to have our beer consumed on the premise,” says Schwandt. “You can’t have wine or liquor even if you’re working with a licensed caterer because we’re under a different set of rules as a licensed brewery.”

The same rule applies to breweries like Surly, which has opted for beer toasts in place of champagne toasts. “We’ve been passing out 4-ounce flutes of Surly beer, and that’s been working great,” says Graham.

“You’re kind of limited if your guests don’t like beer,” says Culver. “On the upside, it’s nice to have a hosted bar because you’re not paying for double martinis on the rocks.”

Unlike many other breweries that host weddings, Day Block Event Center has an open catering policy, so couples can choose their own vendors. Plus, because Day Block Brewing offers more than just their brewed beer in the taproom, couples can drink whatever they’d like on their wedding day, not just what the brewery has on tap—a unique aspect for a brewery wedding venue.

Another potential roadblock to keep in mind could be your wedding date. Brewpub venues like Surly and Day Block have dedicated space for events, but those that don’t—most breweries—aren’t willing to close for an event, so you may need to consider having your wedding on a Sunday instead of the more traditional Saturday. But that doesn’t need to be a negative.

“A brewery wedding is likely going to be a less costly option because it may not be on a Friday or Saturday, so it’s not a premium date,” says Culver. “And costs are minimized, partly due to the size of most breweries; they tend to be smaller than the traditional venue so your guest count will be lower.”

Planning a larger wedding? If you’re set on a brewery as a venue, your guest list may need to be reconsidered, too. At an average-size brewery, a guest list over 200 may be difficult to accommodate.

“If a couple wants a plated dinner at Bauhaus, their caterer would have to bring their own rig and trailer to set up the plating of food,” says Schwandt. “We don’t have a kitchen, and we max out our space for events.”

Brides who would like to have both their ceremony and reception at a brewery may also need to be flexible the day-of, as many venues will need time to flip the space after the ceremony.

“We’ve done both ceremonies and receptions, and both work awesome,” says Graham of Surly. “While we flip the space, we’ve had guests head to the reception space for a social hour, where we can offer hors d’oeuvres and snacks.”

One last detail: If you’re not keen on the sweet aroma of beer, a brewery wedding may not be the best fit. “Keep in mind, you might have a very hoppy-smelling wedding,” says Culver.

BYOE: Bring Your Own Eats

Aside from brewpubs that offer beer along with tasty menu options, most breweries won’t have kitchens or catering on-site. However, this allows each couple to hand-pick what they’ll be serving at the reception, and even explore new dining options, as Shorey Tuetken did.

“With many venues, you’re limited on caterers—some have a list of caterers or maybe only one catering option,” says Tuetken. “I wanted all of my caterers to be cooking on-site, so I did modifications of five different food trucks—including Big River Pizza in St. Paul, who brought in their wood-fired pizza oven and cooked everything to order.”

Tuetken’s food truck vendors formed a U-shape outside of Bauhaus so that guests could mingle, grab a bite and a beer, and not feel rushed while enjoying their choice of eats. Since many breweries often host food trucks for hungry patrons, they’re familiar with what’s popular with guests and will likely provide a list of favorite trucks.

“The atmosphere at a brewery is a little bit more casual, more laid-back, and [makes for] more of a lingering, social type of event,” says Culver.

Just Brew It

Are you considering a brewery wedding? Well, hop to it—breweries are booking one to two years in advance, and the trend is only getting bigger.

“Brides are looking to do something different,” says Schwandt. “And I think they want to throw an authentic party that’s true to themselves.” *

Brew-Infused Ideas:

  • Add hops to boutonnières.
  • Use beer growlers to hold floral centerpieces.
  • Incorporate the brewery’s logo into the wedding save-the-dates and invitations.
  • Create unique beer koozies, coasters or pint glasses with your names and wedding date (the perfect favors).
  • Take engagement photos at a brewery.
  • Include a beer sampling area at the reception.
  • Offer beer and cheese pairings during a social hour.

Top Local Taps

Bauhaus Brew Labs
Minneapolis
Capacity: 150 indoors, up to 300 including patio
Cost: $1,000–$2,000

Day Block Brewing Co. and Event Center
Minneapolis
Capacity: 25–250
Cost: $2,000–$4,500

Insight Brewing Co.
Minneapolis
Capacity: 191
Cost: $4,000–$10,000

Lift Bridge Brewery
Stillwater
Capacity: 70 seated, 200 reception-style
Cost: $150/hour, minimum two hours, with a 40 percent minimum beer purchase (e.g., for 100 guests, must purchase 40 beers plus gratuity)

LynLake Brewery
Minneapolis
Capacity: Taproom capacity 150, rooftop capacity 110
Cost: $2,000 for the space, $1,000 beer minimum

Surly Brewing Co.
Minneapolis
Capacity: 135 seated, 175 reception-style
Cost: Sunday-Thursday evenings start at $2,500 food and beverage minimum; Friday-Saturday evenings start at $5,000 food and beverage minimum

Town Hall Brewery
Minneapolis
Capacity: 80–150
Cost: Rent entire space for approx. $10,000; rent lounge space (80–100 capacity) for approx. $2,000

Tycoons Alehouse
Duluth
Capacity: Several private event spaces; up to 120 seated, 150 reception style
Cost: $500–$3,000