I am in Richmond for the wedding of Anne Saldutti and Josh Wroniewicz this weekend, so that will make posting a little sporadic. However, I did want to answer a question that was asked of me last week. Josh, through his friends at Ardent Craft Ales, has brewed a wedding Oktoberfest. That led to a mutual friend of ours to ask, “What is the best wedding beer?”
The easy answer is your favorite beer that matches the season. For example, an Oktoberfest is the perfect beer for this wedding with it happening during the last weekend of the German Oktoberfest. Another example of a good one for a September/October wedding would be a fresh-hop IPA. That is a more American contribution to the beer canon. It is a fall beer because of the way it is made. The hop harvest begins in late August and the fresh-hop IPAs are brewed using hops that are still wet from harvesting (hence the other name for them: wet-hop IPAs).
For winter, while a big stout or porter would be perfectly fine, I would go with some type of winter ale. It isn’t as heavy and would be a little easier to drink for the attendees, but if you roll big like that go for it. You could also go with a barley wine in this instance and be perfectly fine. Another good alternative would be a smoked style beer, but that would have to be a wedding with a lot of deeply committed craft beer drinkers. Not everyone likes the smoky taste. My personal choice would be a wee-heavy. You would get a nice malt forward beer with good alcohol warmth for a cold night.
Spring screams of maibock. This traditional German spring beer will be a little lighter and usually hoppier than traditional bocks and calls forth the coming of warmer days. For summer, you could do a nice hefeweizen or Weiss beer. If you wanted to leave Germany you could go over to Belgium and France and go with a saison or biere de garde. These are all beers usually brewed during the late winter and early spring for the warmer days of summer.
As with all things beer, whatever beer you choose, choose one you like.
If all goes well, I plan to come back with a couple of growlers of good Virginia craft beer.