How to Spend SF Beer Week in the East Bay

It’s called “SF” Beer Week, yet the schedule is packed with happenings all over the Bay Area. If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire week ten days (another misnomer) in the East Bay. For the record, this was true even before the New York Times decided Oakland was hip.

Keep an eye on sfbeerweek.org for the most complete list of options, but the groupings of events below should help you narrow down your choices a bit if you live or work in the East Bay.

Chow Down

Drake’s Sau & Brau is probably the most talked-about SFBW beer and food event on the eastside, and I’ve heard only good things. It’s back in all its porky glory on February 16 with more Chop Bar whole pigs and a ton of Barrel House beers. Tickets are $45 and only available in advance online.

Other food fun:

  • Wine Thieves in Lafayette is repeating its successful Extreme Ale & Cheese event on February 14. (Click to read about last year’s).
  • Master Cicerone Nicole Erny is reprising last year’s Beer & Cheese of the British Isles event at the Commonwealth, with two sessions this year to accommodate more lactose lovers.
  • The Chocolate & Beer Festival is back at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond on February 11. It’s family-friendly: kids under 9 are free and chocolate-only tickets are available.
  • Get some food in you before a long day on February 12 with the Beer Chef Brunch at Barclay’s in Oakland. Chef Bruce Paton has been throwing beer dinners since before some of you could read, so trust him.
  • Vegan-owned Beer Revolution will have non-animal-based food on certain nights, like a chocolate pairing with Stone and a sorbet pairing with Speakeasy on February 14.

Show Your East Bay Pride

You’ve got two beer week opportunities to let your local flag fly: the East Bay Brewfest at Pyramid and East vs. West night at Barclay’s. The Pyramid fest is a celebration of all breweries on this side of the Bay Bridge, with unlimited tastings for $20 per person or $35 per pair. Barclays will offer a la carte side-by-side comparisons of SF and East Bay beers.

Meet the Brewer

I’m biased (I work there), but Beer Revolution really outdid itself with brewery nights this year. Every day of beer week means meet-the-brewer events, sometimes with three or even five breweries in one night. Big names include Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker, Fal Allen from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and Terrence Sullivan from Sierra Nevada, but don’t overlook the fine beers and good folks of local breweries like Black Diamond, Firehouse, Marin, and Dying Vines. Some nights are still in the works, so check Beer Revolution’s events listings for the most up to date info.

More meet and greets:

  • Bobby G’s in Berkeley is another great spot to schmooze. Check their schedule for nights with Iron Springs, Ale Industries, and Auburn Alehouse.
  • On February 11, The Trappist welcomes Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin Brewing, Brian Stillwater from Stillwater Artisinal Ales, and the owner/founder of 12% Imports – and they’re all collaborating on a special beer for the event. On February 17, the Trappist will host Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson and serve food made with his beer.
  • Get your whole family some pizza and chat with Morgan Cox from Ale Industries at Mountain Mike’s in Lafayette on February 13.

Focus, People, Focus

It’s fun to hone in on one particular style for the day. Saturday, February 11 brings us the 11th annual Double IPA Festival at The Bistro. There’s a blind judging before the fest with winners announced midway through, plus a people’s choice vote. You’ll never get to sample all of the 75+ beers on tap, but it’ll be fun to try. (Take BART!)

Other places to go deep:

  • The ever-popular Sour Sunday at Triple Rock and Jupiter is a very worthwhile event for fans of the funk.
  • On the 14th, Jupiter is having an Anti-Valentine’s Cask Beer & Blues Night with live blues and casks from Jupiter (duh), Drake’s, Triple Rock, Dying Vines, Magnolia, and Moonlight Brewing.
  • On Monday February 13, The Trappist is having a Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge blending seminar, where you’ll taste a young beer, an aged beer, and different ratio mixes of the two.
  • On February 17, enjoy a blind IPA tasting at Barclay’s and see if the most hyped-up brands actually are all that. The same night, Bobby G’s is focusing on strong IPAs, including tapping a keg of Pliny the Younger at 5pm (which I expect to be gone by 5:45, but plenty of other tasty beers will remain.)

Learn Something

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you were better at picking out unwanted flavors in your homebrew or describing the great beer you just drank, Beer Judging 101 at Pyramid on February 19 may be for you. Get an introduction to evaluating and describing beer from Grand Master beer judge David Teckham and Master beer judge Brian Cooper. Both these folks guest-lectured at a BJCP class I took last year and have forgotten more about beer than most of us will ever know.

More geek-out opportunities:

  • Another local beer expert, Nicole Erny, will put you to the test with a blind tasting session at the Trappist on February 13. You’ll learn to describe beers and identify styles, and eventually you’ll find out what the mystery beers were.
  • On February 15, Bobby G’s popular Wednesday night trivia game is all beer trivia, with questions written by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company crew.

Burn Some Beer Calories

If you have a bicycle and $25, you can visit five breweries on February 12 at the Tour de Biere. The day includes tours of Trumer, Linden Street, and Pyramid, plus discounts at Triple Rock and Elevation 66.

More vaguely healthy activities:

  • Pyramid is throwing a “Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)mashdown” in Berkeley. Those who donate wish-list items to the Berkeley Food & Housing Project can participate in a dodgeball game, and two winners and their guests will get to shadow head brewer Simon Pesch on a future brew day. (Details.)
  • Uh…does walking from BART to the bar count as exercise?

Try a Brand-New Beer

Be on the lookout for beer premiers during SFBW. For instance, Ale Industries is turning the release of its sour cherry imperial stout into an all-day shindig at the brewery with food, music, and other limited-release beers.

More new kids on the block:

  • Triple Rock always releases its imperial stout Keyser Soze during beer week, and older versions are usually available for side-by-side tastings.
  • Black Diamond chose beer week to release its first barleywine in years. It was brewed during SFBW 2011 with eight local homebrewers, is 15% rye, and portions were partially aged in rye and brandy barrels then blended back in.

The Grand Finale

If you have any stamina left on Sunday, the Celebrator anniversary fest at Trumer’s Berkeley brewery includes all the samples you can handle, a BBQ dinner buffet, music, a free shuttle from BART, and a cheerful “we survived the week” vibe. San Francisco may start SF Beer Week, but Berkeley finishes it.

Holiday Craft Beer Gift Guide 2011

Choosing gifts for the discriminating beer nerd or the new fanatic can be a challenging endeavor. Are they a hophead? Have they expressed an interest in homebrewing? Do they obsess over proper glassware or temper-mental yeast? Our holiday gift guide can point you in the right direction.

Beer

You really can’t go wrong with the gift of beer itself, unless you choose a generic six-pack of Miller Lite, so we suggest something out of the ordinary. You can do that by avoiding the big box stores and going to a local bottle shop or even a wine store that carries craft beer. That’s where you’re more likely to find some special Belgians or even a few rare beers that your loved one will likely fawn over. If you don’t know their taste, just ask an employee for advice. Most specialty shops have well versed beer mongers that are happy to guide you.

If going out on a limb makes you uncomfortable, consider a gift certificate. Yes, some people think they’re less personal, but a beer geek with discerning taste will love controlling their flavor destiny. A certificate could even allow them to splurge on an expensive bottle they would normally avoid.

Another option is the gift that keeps on giving and Michael Jackson’s Rare Beer Club is your best choice in this area. The bottle selections are above average compared to similar clubs and there are three different membership levels to choose from ranging in price from $45 to $87 per month (including shipping), depending on the number of bottles. While this gift is expensive, it will be highly anticipated each month.

A few 2010 holiday beers. 2011 versions are on the shelf now.

 

Beer Craft Book

If you have a friend who’s itching to try their hand at homebrewing, the Beer Craft book will get them started and on the right track. Written by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill, Beer Craft demystifies the homebrewing process by breaking it down into simple steps, easy to follow charts, and encourages one-gallon batch sizes that can be made in any kitchen. Yes, there are more comprehensive books, but this choice is more concise and presents the process in a far less intimidating manner. List price: $17.99

 

American Homebrewers Association Membership

The second option for the homebrewer in your life is an American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) membership. The AHA offers homebrewers a variety of excellent resources and benefits, including bi-monthly home delivery of Zymurgy Magazine, discounts on beer and merchandise around the country at participating locations, early bird registration to the Great American Beer Festival and online access to recipes and experts in the forum. Cost: $38

 

The Oxford Companion to Beer

Never has one book compiled so much information about beer into nearly a thousand pages. The Oxford Companion to Beer, written by beer sage Garrett Oliver, will give the novice, geek or brewer access to a plethora of insights about brewing history, science, styles and more. It’s simply an incredible resource that every beer lover should have on the shelf. List price: $65, but currently on sale.

 

Glassware

Serving beer in proper glassware is essential and any cupboard should be stocked with a few options for different styles. Spiegelau offers a wonderful starter set that includes a Lager, Pilsner, Wheat and stemmed Pilsner beer glass (also known as a Belgian beer glass) for $34. If you had to choose just one style, go with a set of two stemmed Pilsner glasses for $21.

Logo glassware from breweries also make a nice gift.

 

The Many Varieties of Beer Poster

On the decorative side of beer gifts, Pop Chart Lab’s poster is a must for tracking the genealogy of beer styles that have evolved since the Sumerians brewed 6,000 years ago. In addition, if you purchase this poster before December 31, you’ll be entered to win one bottle of every beer represented in the chart, for a total of 200 bottles worth $2,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Cost: $25

 

Brewery Apparel

If every option above has been exhausted, then you can always pick up a t-shirt, sweatshirt, hat and more at a favorite brewery or bar. If you’re local to a particular venue, just pay them a visit, but most breweries also offer apparel online for easy purchase.

The Berkeley Bar Guide

Photos by Jen Muehlbauer

Berkeley. For some, it conjures up visions of hippies, college kids, or suburban 4th Street shoppers. For others, it’s a place with more good beer than seems reasonable for a town of 100,000.

Bars downtown are a bit more hoppin’ due to their proximity to Cal, while the bars on San Pablo provide more elbow room and a higher median crowd age. None are food destinations per se, but if you like pizza you’ll be in good shape. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beer costing $6, let alone more, at most of these locations.

The bars below are reachable by BART and focus on local beer, but they’re far from the only watering holes in town. You could also go Irish at the Starry Plough, have a fancy cocktail at Revival Bar+Kitchen, or choose from a giant whiskey menu at Acme. There are also plenty of non-bar salutes to good brews, like the fantastic selection at Ledger’s Liquors, the daily brewery tour at Trumer, and Oak Barrel, one of the oldest homebrew shops in the country.

To make a day of Berkeley without just going to bars all day, add some hiking in Tilden Park, a visit to the UC Botanical Garden, or browsing at Rasputin and Amoeba. Or, from our stops on San Pablo, it’s not too far to the Berkeley Marina. Beer lovers with families should note that all the bars below except The Albatross are also restaurants, so kids are allowed.

[mappress mapid=”5″]

 

Near Downtown Berkeley BART Station

 

Bobby G’s

bobbygs-Interior

2072 University Avenue (map), Daily 11am-11pm, (510) 665-8866

You’d think downtown Berkeley wouldn’t need two pizza-intensive restaurants with good beer on tap, and you’d be wrong. Just a few blocks from Jupiter, Bobby G’s packs a lot of local beer, Italian food, and live music into a small space. Some of the bartenders are more knowledgeable than others, but beer guy Josh knows what’s up and keeps the beer list fresh with three rotating taps in addition to the solid regular ten-beer lineup (yes, Russian River fanatics, Pliny the Elder is always on tap). Owner Bobby G is a Yankees fan, but this is also a fine place to watch Bay Area sports games. Tuesday is open mic night, Wednesday is trivia night, and Saturday features free jazz and blues acts.

Best time to go: 4-7pm for happy hour; Wednesday for trivia; before or after a meal at the Indonesian restaurant down the block.

 

Jupiter

jupiter-patio

2181 Shattuck Avenue (map), Mon-Thu 11:30am-1am; Friday 11:30am-1:30am; Saturday 12pm-1:30am; Sunday 12pm-12am, (510) THE-TAPS

The sizable back patio is probably the nicest (legal) outdoor drinking spot in Berkeley other than my yard. Expect a range of house beers, Drake’s beers (Jupiter is a member of the Triple Rock/Drake’s family), and guest taps from the likes of Moonlight Brewing and North Coast. Add pizza and jazz shows and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser.

Best time to go: A sunny day, though heat lamps and a firepit keep the party going after dark and in the colder months.

 

Triple Rock

1920 Shattuck Avenue (map), Mon-Wed 11:30am-1am; Thur-Sat 11:30am-2am; Sunday 11:30am-12am, (510) 843-2739

Triple Rock is one of the first brewpubs in the country, going strong since 1986 (History wonks, make sure to get an eyeful of the breweriana on the walls and you can learn more about it here). Today it’s almost like three different places: the often crowded but always cordial bar area, the all-ages sit-down area, and, when open, the roof deck. All sections offer pub grub, Triple Rock’s excellent beers, and servers who actually know a thing or two about what what’s on tap. There should be a libation for everyone here, but arguably hoppy beers are where Triple Rock really shines. Try the IPAX, the seasonal imperial IIMAXX, and other lupulin-forward limited-release beers like the Single Hop Experience series. If you only make one beer stop in Berkeley, this should be it.

Best time to go: between lunch and dinner; during big sports games if you’re into that kind of thing. Thursday night, when patrons snap up servings of Monkeyhead strong golden ale by the liter bottle, is loved by some and loathed by others.


Near North Berkeley BART Station/San Pablo Buses

 

The Albatross

Albatross-Dart-Board

1822 San Pablo Avenue (map), Sun-Tue 6pm-2am; Wed-Sat 4:30pm-2am, (510) 843-2473

The oldest bar in Berkeley (founded 1964) is widely known for its borrowable board games, challenging pub quiz, pool tables, and dart boards. It’s also got a solid beer selection that, in most cities, would be the best beer list for miles around. It’s cash only, but more than makes up for it by allowing outside food — I recommend Pakistani fare from Kabana or a sandwich from The Cheese Steak Shop — and dishing up fresh, cheap popcorn. It’s more a pub than a bar, if we’re making such distinctions, and with only one TV set, it’s a cozy place to escape from the big game if you’re not into sports. There’s local art on the walls, dogs allowed inside until 8pm, old timey bluegrass every other Wednesday, and other live music twice a month or so.

Best times to go: Sunday nights to lose at trivia; late afternoon/early evening for good conversation with the bartender and old-timers.

 

Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub

lanesplitter-interior

2033 San Pablo (map), Daily 11am-11pm, (510) 845-1652

Beer and ‘za, take three. Well, it is still a college town. The little patio out back is smaller than Jupiter but still allows for drinking beer in the sunshine. The inside has local art, action figures of past bartenders, and a solid taplist of about a dozen regular and rotating taps from Iron Springs, Bear Republic, and other local favorites. As a bonus, there’s always one beer on cask, and during happy hour, the house pale (brewed by Drake’s) is the best deal in town at $2.75 per pint. If any of the babies in my social circle lived in the Berkeley, there’s no question they’d own Lanesplitter onesies by now.

Best times to go: weekday happy hour (3-6pm), weekend happy hour (11am-6pm), Monday (happy hour open to close). What can I say? This is a happy place.

 

Pyramid Alehouse

pyramid-interior

901 Gilman Street (map), Sun-Thu 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, (510) 528-9880

If your glass is half empty, most of these beers are middle-of-the-road Craft Beer 101 for new/unadventurous beer drinkers. If your glass is half full, these are solid, balanced session beers. Either way, here are some things about the Berkeley location that you might not know.
1) The brewery tour is free, and your group will probably be the only ones on it so you can ask as many geeky questions as you want.
2) Some of those limited-release/seasonal beers, like Uproar red from the Ignition series or MacTarnahan’s Lipstinger, may surprise you.
3) $8 growler refills after your first $13 fill. Bargain! And let’s say more breweries than you think will fill a Pyramid growler once they put their own logo on top.

Best times to go: weekdays at 4pm for the brewery tour; whenever you need a cheap growler fill; before a night at alcohol-free punk rock venue 924 Gilman.

The Mission Craft Beer & Food Guide

Clarion Alley / Photographs by Brian Stechschulte

San Francisco’s Mission District is easily one of the best neighborhoods in the Bay Area to find great craft beer and food. A diverse range of bars, cafes and restaurants reside within a walkable mile, appealing to all personalities and palates. Some locales offer overflowing beer menus with sophisticated food, or you can grab a simple slice of pizza with a pint. There are plenty of options and this eclectic guide is designed to help the uninitiated or be the playbook for your next big bar crawl.

It features seven of the most unique venues this cultural nexus has to offer. Locations were chosen for their focus on craft beer and food pairing options, atmosphere and proximity to one another. You could hit them all on a single day or visit just a handful of stops while browsing book stores and vintage furniture shops along the way.

We suggest exploring the neighborhood on foot via the 16th or 24th Street BART stations and most importantly, be adventurous.

 

Bender’s Bar & Grill

806 South Van Ness Avenue (map), Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm, (415) 824-1800

Sometimes an evening calls for a classic grungy bar with a good tap list and head thrashing live music. You can find this at Bender’s Bar & Grill along with a biker friendly crowd and a few other quirks, like the “adult” gumball machine serving surprises best used in the privacy of their photo booth. Bottom line, this place is filled with personality, a couple pool tables, a nice range of beer, and if you’re hungry, wrap your hands around the Bender’s burger with bacon and whiskey folded into the patty. Oh, and you can store your bike right inside the bar.

 

Mission Cheese

Mission Cheese San Francisco

736 Valencia Street (map), 11am-8pm daily, (415) 553-8667

Sorry wine lovers, beer is far superior pairing with cheese. Don’t believe me? Then go to Mission Cheese and nibble on some Bohemian Blue while sipping Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing. Yes, they only offer six beers to choose from, but the varied selection will allow you to explore a range of flavor harmonies. You can pair your beer with a flight of cheese, have it served on a sandwich, or try their decadent mac and cheese. Want to create your own pairings at home? No problem, all the cheese is available for retail sales.

 

Monk’s Kettle

Monks Kettle Braised Beef Cheeks

3141 16th Street (map), 12pm-2am daily, (415) 865-9523

It’s safe to say that Monk’s Kettle is at the top of the heap when it comes to beer selection and delicious food. Twenty-five taps round out the draught selection and you can choose from a new and vintage bottle menu that’s several pages long. Once you’ve chosen a beer consider pairing it with a Bone Marrow Canoe, Braised Beef Cheeks or the Pan Roasted Halibut. If you feel a little bit lost, don’t hesitate to ask the well educated staff or in-house cicerone for advice. This place is very popular, so plan on waiting for a dinner table and your wallet will be much lighter when you leave, but it’s totally worth it.

 

Pi Bar

Pi Bar San Francisco

1432 Valencia St (map), 3:14pm-12am daily, (415) 970-9670

At 3:14pm every day the doors open at this family friendly pizza joint offering twelve beers on tap and an extensive list of mostly Belgian bottles. Pizza is available by the slice with any number of toppings or you can order a large pie to enjoy with friends. Forgo the traditional red sauce on your pizza and order the White Pi covered with Mozzarella, Ricotta and Reggiano Parmesan cheese.

 

Rosamunde Sausage Grill

Rosamunde Sausage Grill

2832 Mission Street (map), 11:30am-10pm daily, (415) 970-9015

Beer and sausage is a classic pairing and Rosamunde serves traditional and exotic options with over twenty-five different draught beers. Long wooden tables and benches occupy the indoor and patio spaces where you can sit in large groups and enjoy a game on the big screen. Consider trying the Merguez (spicy lamb & beef), the Mission Street (beef wrapped in bacon) or Chicken Habanero sausage.

 

Shotwell’s

Shotwell's Bar San Francisco

3349 20th Street (map), Mon-Sat 4:30pm-2pm; Sun 4pm-1pm, (415) 648-4104

History oozes out of the dark paneling, chandeliers and antique bar that makes Shotwell’s so inviting. A watering hole has existed at this location in various forms for over one hundred years. The current owners wrestled it back to life in 2006 and offer a menu that’s focused on local and Belgian beer. The atmosphere more then makes up for the lack of food (yes, we broke the guide criteria), but if you do get hungry, ask the bartender for the menu from Schmidt’s. The German restaurant around the corner is happy to deliver their fare.

 

The Sycamore

The-Sycamore-Back-Porch

2140 Mission Street (map), 12pm-12am daily, (415) 252-7704

If you’re looking for a solid craft beer selection and simple comfort food, then consider heading to The Sycamore. This rustic and cozy spot serves up sandwiches and sliders alongside seven taps and a small but diverse bottle list. On Saturday and Sunday the place is hopping during brunch and if it’s sunny and warm, grab a beer and head to the graffitied oasis in the backyard. When it comes to food, order the secret menu burger stuffed between two slabs of grilled cheese. It’s so dangerous it doesn’t have a name. Big groups are encouraged to linger, chat and play one of the available board games, so don’t feel rushed.

So You Want to Have Craft Beer at Your Wedding

Craft-Beer-Wedding-Couple-Emily-Sauter

Illustrations provided by M Sauter, creator of Pints and Panels. See below.

Any beer lover knows, or will find out, that their wedding is going to be the most stressful beer-related activity of their life.  At a typical party or casual beer-tasting people bring six-packs and share. You want to avoid mistakes, like trying some really obscure beer from Niger at a bar that ends up tasting like instant hangover (Biere Niger).  At a wedding you are the sole host and it’s your responsibility.

Think about it.  All your friends who love beer are going to judge your selections and cast an opinion.  “A keg of Supplication?  Awesome!”  On top of this, you have non-beer drinkers and they’ll constitute a huge percentage of the wedding population.  “I like Fat Tire but not much else,” you might hear them say.  Or maybe even “All beer tastes the same to me, I can’t tell the difference.”  I got that one recently and just about shat myself.

So there you go; beer lovers on one hand, potential beer lovers on the other.  What you decide might bring people over to the beer loving side or drive them away forever.  Remember when you had that really crappy IPA as your first IPA and you believed you didn’t like hoppy beers?  Their fate lies in your hands.  Don’t.  Screw.  This.  Up.

What to Choose

I did a pretty extensive beer set-up at my wedding and get asked for selection advice all the time. No matter the weather, I always come up with the same suggestion: get something hoppy and refreshing. For example, a Pale Ale or Lager would be a good choice for the uninitiated and then buy something special for the serious beer drinkers.  Note: That something special shouldn’t be too extreme. The goal is to get the Pale Ale drinkers to try out the other beer and like it.

At my own wedding I had three kegs from Lagunitas Brewing: the Pale Ale, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Extra and Censored.  I was only serving beer and wine and due to the relatively young age of the 170 attendees, Sumpin’ Sumpin’ was my high-alcohol backup for when the other kegs got drained.  There’s nothing like an 8.8% beer to slow people down a bit.  Oh, and people were camping on site or within a block of the hotel. I don’t recommend this setup for all weddings.

So a nice crisp beer along with a stronger amber beer does the trick.  There’s a reason you don’t see Stouts and Lambics at weddings too much.  The beer has to taste good, but you want to be able to drink at least six of them no problem. If you plan on dancing pretty hard, make it ten. The beer also needs to go with whatever dish you’re serving, so don’t get too crazy or else you’ll end up with half a keg of beer that will probably go to waste.

If you’re on a tight budget, my best advice is to get some coolers, ice, and hit up the local Costco for some cases of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Lagunitas IPA. They’re cheap and bottles can be self-distributed at the wedding. Guests can just reach in and grab one, but you do have a waste issue with all the necessary recycling. Caterers might charge you extra for hauling everything away.

Setup a Draft System

My catering company of choice was going to charge me so I decided to spend half that cost on a tap system in the interest of saving money and the environment. Here’s the setup I built. I bought a CO2 tank (20lb), two taps, all the hoses and regulators, and built my own bar.  The catering company brought beer glasses instead of champagne and it all worked out great.  The person bartending only had to pour wine while everyone gleefully poured his or her own beer right out of the tap.  “Just like at the bar!” some would yell.  It gives your wedding something unique people will remember.

Caution:  Most people don’t know how to pour from a tap. They’ll screw it up and get foam everywhere.  If I could have changed anything I would’ve posted a simple diagram showing how to pour a pint.

I spent about $400 on the whole bar system and kept in the end. When comparing the cost of hiring a bartender, beer, and renting equipment, buying the draft system made more sense. You might as well just buy it yourself.  I mean come on. You were going to get it at some point, right? Right? I purchased everything from Micro Matic.

A Few Parting Words

So remember, get Pale Ale or Lager and something a little stronger for the wedding.  If you go with a Hefeweizen you run the risk people not liking it because it tastes like bananas.  You could go with a cider, but who can really drink more than a few pints of that, especially non-cider drinkers.  Don’t bring out the big guns, but don’t give up and just get Anchor and Trumer. You can do this.  I have faith in you.

If you’re already married and served craft beer, share your selections and advice in the comment area below.

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Illustrations for this post were graciously provided by M Sauter, creator of the website Pints and Panels, where she uses her skills as a cartoonist to review beer. Check it out!