You’re throwing a party. You’re coordinating a BBQ. You're holding a hullaballoo. You are known to be the perfect host. You know exactly how much beer you need to keep your soiree going ‘til the wee hours. You know because we told you! Here is your guide to calculating exactly how much beer you’ll need to make all your guests happy at your next gathering.
First things first; what kind of event are you hosting? Is it a backyard barbecue or a formal wedding? Is this a small gathering of friends or a collection of the town’s most important political figures? Are you sipping on small batch craft bottles, or are you setting up ten red cups in a triangle formation, skillfully launching ping-pong balls toward them?
Once you have clearly established the type and size of your event, we need to assess the types of drinkers. ie, How drunk are your guests going to be? Remember that a good host dictates this for his attendees. If you are trying to keep it classy, less quantity and better quality is the way to go. If you are less concerned, and of course fully equipped with designated drivers, then pull out that tap and stock that ice, because you’re getting a keg.
Here is a quick reference guide to help you keep your guests properly imbibing. Lets assume that you are keeping your guests properly tipsy and not headed down the path to sloppy:
EVENT: Home Poker Game (7-10 people)
You and your pals can’t get enough of the World Series of Poker, so you decide to host your own game at home; complete with loud chip stacking and “legally acquired” cuban cigars. A couple of brews couldn’t hurt either. You have a few different options here. Depending on your taste (and that of your friends) you could keep it economical and low-maintenance and get a simple 30 pack. Its easy to portage and refrigerate, but remember that you are not necessarily purchasing a quality beer in this case. Your all-in move would be to purchase 4-6 different six packs, ranging from a light beer to a craft dark. This way all your chums eclectic tastes are taken care of, and while they talk about your amazing taste in suds, you can focus on raking their money.
EVENT: Backyard BBQ (30-50 people)
It is officially barbecue season and that means lots of beer. Day drinking tends to lead to more drinking, so for your BBQ it is most efficient to employ a keg. A standard keg (actually a ½ barrel) is 15.5 gallons or approximately 165 12 oz pours. This will comfortably give your guests 3-4 beers each. Remember when purchasing a keg to be sure to have a keg bucket and plenty of ice. If your barbecue is on the smaller side, ask for a pony keg; a half version of your standard keg.
EVENT: Wedding/Gala (100+ people)
This is the most important day in your life and it needs to be perfect; the lighting, the flowers, the barley and the hops. It may seem like the easiest thing to do would be get a couple of kegs and call it a day, but that is not so. Red cups at a formal event are easily spilled and insanely tacky. Also, with that many people, even pint glasses could prove dangerous. So, what to do? Just like your poker friends were impressed by the variety you provided, your family, and the family of your spouse, will feel the same way. Choose 3-5 beer options, ranging from light to dark, green bottle and brown bottle and mass produced to small batch craft beers. Then, do some math. How many guests do you have? Assume that 75% of those guests may drink beer. Then, remember that no one celebrates your special day like everyone with access to an open bar. Figure that anyone having a beer will have up to 4 or 5 of them...maybe more. So for a party of 100, make sure to have 10-15 cases of different bottled beers. Its always better to have excess brew. No one knows what you take home and drink on your own, but they’ll surely remember the wedding reception that ran out of beer. Just saying.