Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wedding Beers

I've brewed quite a bit in the last few months (I did 6 batches between late March and early June). The main reason for this is a single cause: beer for my wedding. I'm getting married in North Carolina in early July and wanted to provide a large supplement of homebrew to add to other beverages to be enjoyed. In planning for the big day I took a look at this useful blog post to get some ideas on how to go about brewing, transporting, setting up, and serving the beers at the wedding. While I did not brew nearly as much beer as some of the people I read about during my research, I was able to put together 4 batches with each one netting about a full 5 gallon corny keg. These beers were all brewed between April and June with details below. I was also able to convince one of my homebrew buddies to kick in a 5 gallon keg of his own NEIPA.

My car loaded with 4 kegs and supplies to serve them
While brewing four ~5 gallon batches wasn't much of a difficult task given the timeline, having the beers be at their peak and having (almost) nothing else on tap for a few months made the project tough. The fact that the wedding was outdoors, near the beach, in North Carolina, and in July also posed numerous challenges with getting, and keeping, the beer cold and making sure the bartenders would be able to pour it.
Last minute prep/icing down for the 5th time

Beach Formal Belgian Tripel - Brewed in April in order to have some time to age, higher than expected extraction rate led to this beer being stronger than planned (despite reducing the amount of sugar added). The beer started as 2 separate 3 gallon batches, one brewed with BE-256 and the other with S-33, before being combined to one fermentor after several weeks. While it came off fairly boozy at first, a few months has brought it together to a nice example of the style.

Shoreline Summer Ale - Loosely modeled off Big Wave Golden Ale from Kona Brewing Company this is intended to be a moderately hoppy blonde with tropical fruit forward character. The grist is somewhat of a trimmed down version of my most recent StarTropics NEIPA while the hops emphasize the classic combo of Citra and Mosaic. At kegging in early May this was one of the fruitiest, tropical, exciting beers I have made and I was disappointed I needed to wait so long to drink it (and worried that the character would fade). While the fruit flavors transformed over time the beer still retained some tropical fruit salad goodness, just leaning a little more towards overripe fruit than the super fresh mango and papaya it started with.

Lighthouse Little Saison - A variation on my go-to Maisonette Grisette the beer features mosaic hops and saison yeasts in a small platform that always excites. Not my best batch of this beer, and it picked up some accidental brett along the way (for better or worse), but a tasty and refreshing beer none the less.

White Wedding Wheat Ale w/ Orange, Ginger, and Chamomile - This one was the least based on previous recipes with just mild input from my Summertime Rye beer. Instead of remaking a previous beer, I wanted to brew something of a Blue Moon clone with more interesting fruit/herb/spice character. The end result is surprisingly chamomile forward with light orange and almost no ginger but is a refreshing and easy drinker. This beer (along with the Shoreline Summer Ale) used my house Ingl├ęs culture, a slowly evolving blend of British yeast strains that I occasionally add new yeasts to during pitching.

Hazy Gudenius NEIPA - Guest brewed by Scott Janish, of his awesome eponymous blog and the soon-to-be-awesome Sapwood Cellars. Brewed with Citra Cryo Hops, along with Otto Supreme and Amarillo, this one is an obvious crowd pleaser.
Serving at the wedding, fortunately someone knew how to operate ball lock kegs and CO2 to get the beers to pour while I was taking photos

Post wedding updates:
At the wedding the Lighthouse saison and Hazy Gudenius NEIPA were clear favorites and both were near empty at the end of the night while the others were somewhere between 1/3rd and 2/3rds full. The White Wedding and Shoreline had become a bit oxidized and were not as good as they had been when fresh but still drinkable and they got the least love. Overall I think one less beer or switching one for something super different (like a dark beer) might have been a good idea but none of the beers turned out bad and they were much more popular than the light beers we had the bar serve for those who didn't want homebrews. I wish I had taken photos of each of the beers when pouring them, but there was honestly way too many other things going on.