CRAFTING A GOOD SUPER BOWL PARTY
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
From the (late) Greenwich Citizen:
I thought Super Bowl week a good time for a diversion from wine to the world of beer. It’s not that Super Bowl revelers don’t drink wine. In fact, it may be the beverage of choice for those who view the game as an excuse for the real party.
Still, a whole lotta weak beer will be consumed this weekend, so I wanted to remind my readers of the fantastic regional craft beers that are available to them. And at reasonable prices! With wine, the odd guest who doesn’t know the difference between DRC and RC Cola will ruin your evening, but if an ignorant guest guzzles the Belgian Triple you purchased, it won’t cost you as many tears. Or ducats.
I have reviewed only Ales and India Pale Ales. These are the most popular styles in craft brewing today. They also represent good value. They are light to medium bodied, so they go well with watching the game, as well as most healthy (and unhealthy) snack foods. Beers were picked randomly from available bottles in local stores.
Green Bay and Pittsburgh are, oddly enough, linked by the craft beer movement. Pabst, now much smaller than in its heyday, has made a specialty of contracting its distribution networks to small brewers, as well as partnering with them to brew their beer. In Western Pennsylvania, the Latrobe Brewing Company, brewers of Rolling Rock beer before its purchase and evisceration by InBev/Anheuser-Busch, converted their facilities to brewing a series of beers that includes the Southampton Publick House I have reviewed here.
These beers are generally available in Greenwich, Stamford or Portchester:
Glenville and King Street: Connecticut Wine or Glenville Wine.
Greenwich proper: Bellmore, Continental, or Horse Neck.
Cos Cob: Cos Cob Liquor or Post Wine (Post Road), or LaBella’s (north end of River Road).
Riverside and the O.G.: Best Cellars/A&P, All the Best, or Sam’s Package.
Portchester: Portchester Beer Distributors, across from the old Lifesavers factory.
Give the shops a call beforehand to determine availability.
Abita Jockamo IPA (Abita Brewing Co., Abita Springs, LA, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. www.abita.com. Distributed in Connecticut by Drinx Unlimited, Inc. (DUI))
Great fruit on the nose, with hints of pineapple and orange. Wonderful, full peachy flavors, like the Magic Hat Number 9 (below). The Jockamo has a sweet maltiness like the Mojo IPA (below), but it is on the right side of too-rich, whereas the Mojo is not.
BBC Lost Sailor IPA, Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale, and Traditional Pale Ale (Berkshire Brewing Co., South Deerfield, MA, www.berkshirebrewingcompany.com. Self-distributed.)
A meatier, fuller-bodied ale, with copper color and more hops than the Traditional Pale Ale, which I found too thin and hoppy for my taste. Of the three big BBC ales, I like this one the most. All of these beers are available in 64 oz. growlers, which are perfect for the Super Bowl, and take you back to an era of ice houses, buying fresh beer daily, and family get-togethers. Note: the growlers typically carry a deposit of $1.50, but you’ll get it back like a regular $.05 deposit. The BBC folks give you a real incentive to return the bottles. How environmentally-conscious is that?
It may be heresy to say, but the Steel Rail reminds me of what Budweiser would be if it were properly brewed, in small batches. Bud’s deficiencies, the insipid beechwood carbonation, ashy body, and general lack of flavor, are here corrected with a full body, golden color and a healthy-looking head. This beer has creamy, full-bodied taste, but it still refreshes like the lightest of beers.
Boulder Mojo IPA (Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO, www.boulderbeer.com. DUI)
This beer had a noticeable candied malty flavor that filled the palate. It made me anticipate refreshment but I found heaviness instead. If you enjoy a malty ale, this is for you.
Geary Hampshire Special Ale (D.L. Geary Brewing Co., Portland, ME, www.gearybrewing.com. DUI)
Gold to brown-gold in color. Complex nose of sweet-tarts, maturing to roasted pineapple. Big and assertive on the palate, with candy/caramel maltiness and a soft, powdered-chocolate background. Great balance of astringency and maltiness; there are hops in here, but they are not baying for attention. Very complex. This ale gains in warmth of flavor as I drain it.
Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale (Kona Brewing Co., Kona, Hawaii, www.konabrewingco.com. Distributed in Connecticut by Dichello Distributors.)
The hops do not come springing out of the beer, but they are obviously there, with an astringency on the palate and a general balance. Like Kona coffee, this beer is soft. I want to dismiss it as too subtle, but the beer is tenacious, with hops in the background to keep my interest and a satisfying finishing malt heaviness.
Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA, www.lagunitas.com. DUI)
Gold color throughout. Very inviting, subtle, apricot nose. Hops dominate the malt, but there is good body and structure here. Refreshing, with very slight bitterness on the finish. Good peach fruit throughout, with a floral note. A very nice beer.
Lake Placid IPA (Lake Placid Craft Brewing, Utica, NY, www.ubuale.com. Distributed in CT by Northeast Distributors. (NE))
Amber to brown color. Great, full nose of hops and barley, with a caramel touch. Full-flavored, earthy, medium-bodied palate, with clean attack. Slight, enticing bitterness on finish. A great combination with tunafish-and-guacamole-salad sandwiches on 12-grain toast, with lettuce.
Long Trail Unfiltered IPA, and Pale Ale (Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, VT, halfway between Rutland and White River Junction, www.longtrail.com. Dichello.)
The IPA has a nose of burnt oranges, hops, malt sugars. Very refreshing, with a prickly effervescence and good hops. Very little secondary flavor. Astringency and slight bitterness on a very long finish. A nice, strong, if neutral, beer. Good as a thirst-quencher, say, after skiing, and in anticipation of more full-bodied beers later in the evening.
The Pale Ale has less effervescence, the nose is more attenuated, and the flavor is rather neutral. This is not a dull beer, but the refreshment comes from subtle bitterness; my thirst was slaked by astringency, not by cold or hydration. For that reason, I give the Pale Ale a nod over the IPA.
Magic Hat #9 Ale with Natural Flavors, “Not quite Pale Ale.” (Magic Hat Brewing Co., South Burlington, VT, www.magichat.net. NE.)
Apricot flavor. Very subtle, like a spice more than a fruit. Delicious, refreshing, at the cusp of being too rich, but it leaves you wanting more. Medium-bodied, with a light amber color. Very appetizing, very refreshing.
Saranac IPA, and Pale Ale (Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY, www.saranac.com. Distributed in Connecticut by Star Distributors.)
Both these beers were disappointing, with little aroma, low body, ephemeral flavor, and an overly-hopped palate. They had almost no length.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA, www.sierranevada.com. NE.)
Copper color. Good carbonation. Good body on the palate, with a nice, toasty hop taste. Somewhat excessive bitter taste, but altogether well-balanced. Some good secondary flavors of apple and apricot.
Southampton Publick House IPA (Southampton Bottling, Southampton, NY, brewed at the old Rolling Rock Brewery, in Latrobe, PA, www.publick.com. NE.)
Brown caramel color, great head and effervescence. The flavors here are somewhat neutral in the pattern of the Long Trail, but come on with a subtle caramel and nice, hoppy effervescence and just a touch of orange on the finish.
Wolaver’s IPA, and Pale Ale, both certified organic (Otter Creek Brewing, Middlebury, VT, www.ottercreekbrewing.com. NE.)
IPA: Nice, steady carbonation. Satisfying, full body, with good malt character; not too sharp on the hops. Still, the flavor tails off mid-palate, and does not return.
Pale Ale: Golden to strawberry-blonde color with tinges of rusty red. Good maltiness on the nose, tending a bit toward caramel. On the palate, this is a rich beer, but the flavors are more cereal than fruit. It is not long, but provides full-enough flavor satisfaction.