We are smack dab in the center of some great sports right now. I am still recovering my eyesight from the shiny metallic helmets that the Oregon Ducks wore in their win over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl. And what better libation to enjoy the BCS Championship game or a finally unlocked NBA game than craft beer?
Usually these games are dominated by the industrial water lagers. The Lowest Common Denominator of beer. But this year, why not get creative and really amaze people at your next party?
For instance, if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl as predicted, set up some Wisconsin cheddar and grab an assortment of beers and see which matches up the best. And if the non-good beer crowd seems anxious, tell them that it is like comparing great quarterbacks. Which craft beer is Tom Brady and which is Tim Tebow? [OK, there is a Tebrew beer so let’s use Aaron Rodgers as a better example.] If you are really adventurous, you can wait until the Super Bowl combatants are set and buy beer online from each of the states involved.
For the college football championship, you can find some Abita beer from the state of Louisiana and toast the undefeated and consensus #1 in the nation LSU Tigers. Or you could get a sampler of “red” ales and root on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Either way, you will have fun if they play another 9-6 game.
When I watch my favorite NBA team (Portland Trailblazers), a great way to enjoy the fast paced action is to swing by either Golden Road Brewing (hefeweizen) or Eagle Rock Brewery (Revolution XPA) and get a growler fill. Even the most die-hard Bud fan will admit that a growler of super fresh beer is cool.
If someone has good craft beer in the ‘fridge, I might even watch a full hockey game.
For the craft Beer of the Week, I recommend Stone Brewing Co. More Brown Than Black, which is a “brown” IPA made in collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing of Oregon and The Alchemist in Vermont. Those geeky enough to follow the minor tempest in a mash tun that is the Black IPA vs. Cascadian dark debate will know that Stone does not shy away from making its position known on that topic. In the past they brewed and Escondidian ale and now they have created another in this really great IPA. It has many of the same characteristics of the Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale. Grapefruit and citrusy fruit punch notes dressed in a slightly hazy cola color. And part of the proceeds goes to charity to help those affected by the storms on the East Coast last year.
Your Homework this week is to set aside some vacation time this year to have a beer adventure here in California. You can visit the City by the Bay during San Francisco Beer Week. Or head south to San Diego and find a hotel on the great beer corridor that is Highway 78. Or if you really want to make a drive of it, head to Santa Rosa and visit the famed Russian River Brewing Company. Just make sure not to show up on Pliny the Younger weekend.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.