How Much Beer?
Ah, the age-old question. Many a philosopher has spent their days on this conundrum. Unfortunately, just like your high school guidance counselor told you, philosophy is useless so we don’t have the answer to this question.
But don’t fret, we have some guidelines. Guidelines are what we use when we don’t know what the hell we are talking about but want to sound authoritative anyway. So, here are the official (subject to change, no warranty express or implied, do not taunt Happy Fun Ball) Hail the Ale! quantity guidelines.
Based on the average drinker, you should get three 12 oz. beers for each person drinking beer. This comes to five six packs per ten people. You may need to adjust this if your buddies are above or below average.
“But wait!”, you say “I want a keg!” Ah, keg beer, the ultimate in beer containment and distribution. According to my sources, a 1/2 barrel—which is what most stores sell as a “keg”—is about 160 12 oz. beers. If we stick to our guidelines above, that would be enough for about 53 and one-third people (if you have a third of a person, they take two-thirds less beer). If you can get a 1/4 barrel—commonly called a “pony keg”—it should be good for about 26 people. Note that some imports come in 13.2 gallon kegs which means about 140 12 oz. beers, so adjust accordingly.
Kegs can be cost-effective but they are more labor-intensive and nothing is more depressing than having to empty a keg the next morning to bring it back because you bought too much beer. Also—and this should be obvious—when you by a keg you only get one type of beer.
What to Buy?
Before going on a beer run, you need an idea of what you and your guests would like to drink. Figuring out your taste in beer should be easy. Figuring out someone else’s may not be so easy. So, we here at Hail the Ale! have designed this short, easy questionnaire to assist you:
Question #1: How much do you want to spend on beer?
A) As little as possible.
B) I don’t care, I just want good beer.
C) None of the above.
If you answered A):
If you are going to have a large party or want to go on a binge, look into getting a keg of one of the common American beers. Miller Light and Bud Light are good choices since they are decent cheap beers and light beers usually go over well with the ladies. If you choose something like Michelob Ultra, it may go over well with the ladies but your guy-friends or anyone that has taste buds will probably hate you.
If you answered B):
If money isn’t your primary concern, I’d suggest getting a variety of good beers in the $6–$10 per six pack range and a few of the aforementioned light beers to appease those that don’t like no fancy beers. Another option for a smaller party would be to get some of the liter bottles or four packs and do your own beer tasting.
Unless you know your crowd likes to experiment or likes heavier beers, I’d try to go lean on the stouts, porters, and very hoppy beers and stick with lagers and ales. Here are some of my picks in each of these categories that should be easy to find at any grocery or liquor store. If you have more or better options available, more power to you.
Lagers: Harp, Negra Modelo, Yuengling, Sam Adams Light
Ales and Wheat Beers: Hoegaarden, Paulaner, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Pete’s Wicked Ale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Porters: Anchor Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Samuel Smiths Taddy Porter
Stouts: Samuel Smiths Oatmeal or Imperial Stouts, Guinness, Boddingtons
Hoppy: Dogfish Head 60, 90, or 120 Minute IPAs, Redhook IPA, most any other IPAs
If you answered C):
You are an idiot.
Sorry, can’t help you with that one but having beer is a good start.