Planning a Homebrew Wedding

Homebrewers love to share their beer with those they care about. So the marriage of two homebrewers, Amanda and Myles Burkemper, wouldn’t have been complete without beer made with their own hands served at their wedding. Here is their tale of love and marriage (and beer), all going together up to the altar, capped with the two sweet words of “I do.”

Amanda Burkemper has been brewing since early 2010 after her father’s wine making friend gave her a copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (sound familiar, anyone?). She read the book cover-to-cover in three days and had her first batch fermenting within a week. “It was a terrible beer,” Amanda admitted, “but I loved it.” She then taught Myles to brew in 2013, although she did most of the brewing for the wedding.

Before Amanda and Myles dated, they were beer drinking buddies for years. So when Amanda and Myles got engaged, it seemed as obvious as the ceremony itself to have a full beer theme at their wedding.  The beer needed to be on point and, of course, homebrewed.

It might seem silly to some, but beer is a very important component of their relationship. Amanda explained the full beer theme and total expanse of it developed the first few months after they were engaged. Amanda summed it up perfectly, saying, “Beer is our shared hobby. Beer is how we met. Beer is what we share with others. We had to have it as the main theme of our wedding.”

Homebrew wedding

© Copyright 2014 Ryan Brown Photography by Ryan Brown

Planning the Beer

Although it may sound intimidating to brew 100 gallons of beer for the one of the most memorable days of your life, Amanda and Myles never worried about pulling off their perfect day. The key to their (relatively) stress-free day was planning well in advance.

They bought a Sabco BrewMagic about 10 months before the wedding and expanded their fermentation capacity to include a 15 gallon conical. In fact, they said the worst part was the being forced to brew. By the time the two were happy with the test recipes, they had to stick to a very strict brewing schedule to ensure all that delicious beer would be ready for the big day. No sweat, right?

Amanda recalls by the tenth brew day (including test batches), “It was pretty hard to get up and brew another 10 gallons of 1.050 beer that we couldn’t drink until the wedding. However, on the upside, we learned a lot about brewing for consistency and were able to dial in the Sabco System perfectly. I think either Myles or myself could brew 10 gallons with our eyes closed at this point!”

Homebrew wedding

Test runs started in February on the Sabco, and although it might seem a bit premature to start test brewing so early, they needed to figure out which beers to brew and also how to work their new RIMS system. In April, they brewed two batches of the Belgian Golden Strong Ale that would be used during their toast, then two batches of the Helles, two batches of Dunkel (side note: the first batch ended up too bitter, but Amanda blended it with the second batch adding half the 60 minute hops to make the perfect Dunkel), two batches of Saison for blending and then one batch of session IPA.

Homebrew wedding

Given the party nature of their wedding guests, Amanda calculated they’d need about 80 gallons of beer and cider on tap, as well as 20 gallons of toast beer. In the end, despite having a full open bar with wine, they finished the night with about 15 gallons. Sounds like a good showing.

There were three main beers, two ciders and four rotating saisons tapped every 1.5 hours.

  • Mains: Munich Helles, Munich Dunkel, Session IPA
  • Ciders: Peach-flavored cider, cinnamon cider
  • Saisons (tapped every 1.5 hours):
    • “Fermenter #2” our riff on Tank 7
    • “Mimosa” saison spiked with lemon and orange zest
    • “The Michael” saison with Sauvignon Blanc grape juice and Nelson Sauvin dry hops
    • “Dupont” regular WLP565 saison (the base beer for all the saisons)

Homebrew wedding

© Copyright 2014 Ryan Brown Photography by Ryan Brown

The Venue & Reception

One of the most difficult parts to plan a wedding serving homebrew is finding a venue that allows untaxed, outside liquor. Amanda and Myles had two options in Kansas City, Mo., and went with the one who was “okay” with serving homebrew and also allowed outside catering. The owners of the venue loved the whole beer motif since they were homebrewers themselves.

The year prior to the Burkempers tying the knot, homebrew clubs and lawyers from AB-InBev in St. Louis pushed for legalizing homebrew transportation and pouring at festivals (or weddings). For more homebrewing rights on your state, check out our legistlative page. Once they got the contract for the reception they didn’t look back.

Of course, what good is serving homebrew if you don’t have food to go with it? Amanda and Myles used the catering company of the local restaurant Voltaire, and since Amanda and Myles are BJCP certified judges, they picked the pairings themselves.

Amanda used two words to sum up how people reacted to the idea of serving homebrew at the wedding: LOVED IT. The cider was gone by 9 p.m., the first saison was gone before the wedding party even arrived, the last saison was finished before last call, and they had only six bottles of toast beer and about 15 gallons of beer leftover.

Homebrew wedding

© Copyright 2014 Ryan Brown Photography by Ryan Brown

Lasting Advice

Weddings can be stressful. When you decide to brew beer for your entire wedding, there are going to be ups and downs. For example, it takes a lot of time and skill to not just brew 90 gallons of flawless beer, but source the coasters for the “Save the Dates,” select custom glassware, find a florist who will put hops in the bouquet and boutonnieres, find a reception venue to serve homebrew—the list goes on. They found their support system to be crucial. Myles and Amanda brought on three cellar masters for the day (shout out to Amy Satterlund, Michael Crane and Caleb Schickedanz). “With each other’s support, you will get from your little beer dream to the finish line,” said Amanda.

Second, make absolutely sure you can brew quality beer. If you’re entering beers that score in the mid to upper 20s, perhaps just go with commercial beer at the reception. Remember, this day is special and you don’t want anything (especially off-flavor beer) to sour the mood.

Pulling off a wedding can be tough and strenuous, but proper planning, a supporting partner and being surrounded by loved ones willing to lend a helping hand is a great formula for success. If you’re planning a wedding make sure to keep this advice in mind, and after all the planning, just look forward to sharing a special beer for the first time as you start your new journey together. Cheers!

Homebrew wedding

© Copyright 2014 Ehlmann Photography by Debbie Kertz

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