Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Yes, it is once again upon us, the gladiatorial apex of American sports, the most exciting game of the year (well, not usually, but it’s supposed to be), the day that drives sales of more than 51 million cases of beer (not to mention 53 million pounds of avocados, which brings to mind a disconcerting image of millions of Americans sitting in front of their TV with a Bud in one hand and an avocado in the other).
Yes, that day, the day of days, the Super Bowl. And when it comes to wine pairings for the Super Bowl, well, forget that craziness. The Super Bowl means beer.
Now, you could drink some sort of generic "lite" hogwash, but why would you do that when the two competing teams come from places that are littered with terrific regional breweries? Show some support! Drink your team’s hometown - or home pretty-much-the-same-region - brew. Here’s a selection of excellent Patriots or Giants-oriented possibilities.
The Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams
You can’t exactly pass up this one, as it’s America’s largest craft brewer. The classic Boston Lager is always a fine option, but the more full-bodied, spicy Winter Lager would be an excellent accompaniment for spicy wings.
Another Boston-based stalwart (they now have a brewery in Vermont as well), these guys have been around since 1986 (more or less the dawn of time in craft beer terms) making tasty beers like the appealingly hoppy Harpoon I.P.A.
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire-based Smuttynose - the name is taken from the name of an island off the New Hampshire/Maine coast - makes a very fine, substantial brown ale called Old Brown Dog Ale, which, as one might expect, has a brown dog on the label. There's also the supercharged (9.7% alcohol) Big A IPA, which should do an excellent job of killing the pain for New England fans if things don’t go their way.
Allagash Brewing Co.
Portland, Maine, is a great beer town, partly thanks to the presence of Allagash, a top specialist in Belgian beer styles. Their mainstay is the eminently drinkable Allagash White, a Belgian-style wheat beer spiced with coriander and orange peel, but the Allagash Dubbel - reddish in color, nutty-malty in flavor, and entirely delicious - is also well worth seeking out.
Another top specialist in Belgian-style ales, Ommegang is located in Cooperstown, New York. Admittedly, that’s kind of a baseball-centric place, but surely they must watch football there too? Right? Regardless, Ommegang’s Rare VOS, an orange-hued, fruity Belgian ale, would be a great partner for a halftime bacon cheeseburger.
Brooklyn-based brewmaster Garret Oliver is a beer scholar (editor-in-chief of the new Oxford Companion to Beer) and a man with a deft hand at fermentation. His widely available Brown Ale is rich and malty; if you can track it down, his limited-production Brooklyn Local #2, a dark Belgian ale in a cork-sealed bottle, is even better.
This family-owned, regional brewery has been in business since the 1800s, and it’s still rolling right along under the direction of third and fourth generation family members Nick and Fred Matt. Go for the Saranac IPA, with its light pine/citrus scent; an excellent option for that pizza you and the gang just ordered.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Captain Lawrence founder Scott Vaccaro started making beer before he was old enough to vote (or even drink), which is pretty much an excellent approach to life. He’s now doing terrific work at this Pleasantville, New York, brewery. There is a slight downside, which is that Captain Lawrence beers are only available in New York. If you’re in the area though, you’d be crazy to pass up the company’s intense Smoked Porter.
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Fast Game Day Snacks
Super Bowl Recipes
50 Best Bars in America
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
Best Pizza in the U.S.
Now that you've got the beer covered, find the best chicken wings in the country.
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Want a really great beer. Look for one called Innis & Gunn. Unbelievable. But only available in a few states.
I&G is a bit stale/overpriced ... for some of the best of the scottish stuff, look for House Traquair.
And yet, they don't mention 3 other great beers from NY and focus on Saranac? Saranac is a joke!
How about Southern Tier, Six Point, or the best new NY beer, Three Heads Brewing?
Wow, way to focus only on the northeast, how about Dogfish Head and Stone Brewery! New Belgium? Oskar Blues? And so many many more....
I may be an idiot, are those the two teams playing in the super bowl this year? Sorry!
Love the shoutout to Captain Lawrence!! It is nice to see them on this life. The brewery is 15 mins from my house and it's DANG good!! Plus they give out unlimited free beers at their brew house, and they are the nicest guys ever. They really care about good quality beer. If you have the chance to check them out, I highly recommend!
I think most people buy beers based on how stupid the name is. The more stupid the name, the more Hip they think they are ...Stupid Sheeple.
Based on that theory, I'll bet a beer called David would be a top seller
Nah, bitter and flat.
Dave's Pale Ale is awesome!
My bad, it's actually Dale's Pale Ale, but still!
Has no character either.
I would buy a bottle of Stupid Sheeple beer. Where can I find it?
These microbrews all taste like some guy's homebrew he made in his basement. They taste like SHT. I'll take a lite beer over these anytime, and they don't cost nearly as much. Microbrews are for followers.
You poor soul...
Here, I'll pee in a bottle for you and shake it up a bit. There's your lite beer.
Oregon beers, yum! Lets not forget Washington. Pike Place Ale, Elysian Ales, Hales, Fish Tale, Grant's, Dick's, Marinetime Pacific Brewing, forgetting some I'm sure......
Last I checked – Oregon wasn't going to the Super Bowl.
maybe 'cause they don't have a team
Mohammed is Dead no thanks to all the BLACK people. I LOVE THIS MONTH!!!!!!!
East coast slant much? Guess it is an Nor'easter sooper bow.
Busch beer rules!
Why buy beer for the game when it's just as easy (and a lot more fun) to make your own? :)
Just as easy???? Are you retarded??
Stick to posting on topics you know. Beer is definitely not one of them.
Because it's cheaper. And quicker. And much less likely to rupture all over the place and then taste like goblinass when all you want is a good beer.
If you're going to Indy for the big game this year, the best breweries in town happen to be Flat 12, Fountain Square and Sun King breweries. Flat 12 has an AMAZING IPA called half-cycle, Sun king has the really good, easy drinking Sunlight Creme Ale and an IPA called grapefruit jungle that's fantastic if you can get it, and even though Fountain Square brewery has barely been open 6 months it has a great blonde ale that is damn good. I live in Indy and our town has gone through something of a brewing Renaissance in the past couple of years. If you want good microbrews go to downtown's ram and rock bottom. if you want true craft beers that are innovative and truly amazing, go to flat 12, sun king and fountain square over on the near SE side of Indy, all within walking/ short cab distance from each other.
The 18 year old chicks love craft beers ;-)
If in Atlanta, go to Twain's Billiards & Tap. They have multiple TVs, great fare, and a new beer lineup that is receiving great praise by local beer enthusiasts.
Stink beers, East Coast.
Come to California or Oregon and we'll show you some decent beers.
Anchor Steam & Sierra Nevada. Other than that, what 'chu got, buddy?
They have a ton. Bear Republic, Lost Coast, Pizza Port to name 3. But the east has good stuff too: Allagash, Smutty (as mentioned here), Shipyard, Foothills, etc. There are plenty on both coasts! Don't be closed-minded, either of you.
Time for a few Seasonal's.
Highly recommend Deschutes Brewery – Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale.
It tends to sell out fast.
Enough of the regional smack talk. There is good beer available all over this country, just quit drinking that foreign stuff like Bud.
West Coast has great beers, Alaska has even better. This fact is tough for an east coast centric person. I don't blame you, the news agencies pretend that everything revolves around the east coast. Expand your perspective, drink beer from somewhere other than your own backyard.
Portland, Bend, and Eugene, Oregon. Otherwise, the rest of the country has no clue what a micro brew is or what it took to start them after the end of prohibition. Deschutes Brewery (Bend). Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene). Widmer Brothers, Bridgeport Brewing, Upright Brewing, McMenamins Brew Pubs, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Lucky Labrador Brewing, MacTarnahans Brewery (Portland). Just to name a few of our favorites. However, Lagunitas Brewing in Cali has THE best IPA on the planet. No doubt. East coast peeps, stick to your wings and cheesesteaks, you don't know jack about beer....
Wow you said "peeps." I think I will stick to the east coast, thanks.
And downtown's Rock Bottom and Tugboat Brewing Co- which is stashed away in a dark alley, and has the most wonderful stout. Tiny glass, knocks you on your a$s!
Check out Long Trail Double Bag ale from Vermont. German "alt" beer with 7.2% alcohol content, so go easy. The label is an extra bonus – two cows with their udders on full display.
Its all about that Dos XX!!!!! <3 or some good old PBR.
If you're lucky enough to be in Indy, any of the downtown brewpubs have great fare - Alcatraz, Ram or Rock Bottom. Why anyone would drink that Sam Adams swill is beyond me. Next to Corona, possibly the most overhyped beer ever.
Boo & hiss to you JB. Sam Adams produces fantastic beer. Have you tried their dozen or so flavors? You may not like some, but I'm sure you'll find a few acceptable. And you're spot on about Corona, not just overhyped but possibly the worst beer on the planet.
Alcatraz was crap (in fact they're closed now) and Ram is pretty good and so's rock bottom. But the best breweries in Indy happen to be Flat 12, Fountain Square and Sun King breweries. Flat 12 has an AMAZING IPA called half-cycle, Sun king has the really good, easy drinking Sunlight Creme Ale and an IPA called grapefruit jungle that's fantastic if you can get it, and even though Fountain Square brewery has barely been open 6 months it has a great blonde ale that is damn good. I live in Indy and our town has gone through something of a brewing Renaissance in the past couple of years. If you want good microbrews go to ram and rock bottom. if you want true craft beers that are innovative and truly amazing, go to flat 12, sun king and fountain square.
Ram and Rock Bottom? Garbage beer. Fused hops. Do your homework.
Does beer make you smart? Well, it made "Bud wiser".....
How a list of the best NY based breweries can exclude Southern Tier is beyond me.
Love me some Pumpking
Totally agreed. Don't forget the Choklat!
Ommegang is crap. Giants fan but New England area brewers are better. Probably just sip on some vanquished SF beers like Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada. Love Harpoon though.
Have you ever tried Three Philosophers? It's like running a lawnmower through a barley field, and then cramming the bag of trimmings down your throat! SO GOOD.
Captain Lawrence is GREAT! Captain's Kolsch, Pale Ale and Smoked Porter, along with seasonal/ limited varieties. He just moved to Elmsford, with a bigger facility.
What about Cisco Brewer's Whale's Tale Pale Ale?!?!?! C'mon, it's gotta make the list, it's Nantucket's finest!!
Keep advertising that BOOZE BOY.........................
All the ones I've had on here are good. Have not had Allagash or Captain Lawrence.
My personal favorite is Magic Hat though. Craft beers are definitely worth the extra cost.
This is an appropriate story at just the right time as I am making my list out right now. Let's see.....3 cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon, 1 each of Schlitz and Prager, Oh wait..Tim Tebow just texted me...better pick up a case of Regular Coors for him. Let's Party.
Hey can I come over too? I'll bring some St Pauli Girl.
Man, I'm glad I won't be spending Sunday over your house. I'll stick with the quality craft brews over that crap any day.
Tsk, tsk. Romo you'll never be accepted in Big D until you haul out the Lone Star. Drinking any other beer is treason.
Good Point Capt. Comeback, I'll pick up a case of Shiner too.
These are all pretty good choices (though I've never tasted Captain Lawrence). Can't really go wrong with any of these.
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