If you’ve followed this blog or my Twitter account for any period of time, you know I’m something of a beer aficionado. (And if you are too, you can check out my Untappd profile and friend me there.) I think life’s too short to be wasted on thin, yellow, mass produced lagers that advertise based on “lifestyle” and coolness rather than, you know, taste.
This coming Sunday, however, you may find yourself drinking with the unenlightened as you enjoy the Patriots-Seahawks game. Now, it’s not cool to just bring your own six-pack and drink from that all the time — sharing is caring, plus you’ll just look like the beer snob you are. So ideally you’ll bring two six-packs you can share and, in so doing, expose your friends and loved ones to something better than Bud/Coors/Miller.
(Note that this also works for Oscar parties and other non-sportsball events, too.)
So here’s some ideas for good “gateway” beers, brews to use to start weaning folks off the Big Three and introduce them to a wider world of awesome.
If you’re in a Bud Light/Corona crowd, the good news is that you can only go up. However, you’re going to have to start slow; leave the corked-and-caged champagne bottle beers at home. You can go for something like an Abita Light or Sam Adams Light, if the whole “light” thing is key. If it’s more about the comfort with the yellow fizz, upgrade to a Stella Artois, Bitburger Pils or Pilsner Urquell. Heck, a Pacifico or Presidente would be an upgrade at this point.
If it’s a regular Bud/Miller/Coors crowd, then you have more options. They’re at least used to some bite and carbonation and a touch more flavor, which is good. Time to throw a Victory Prima Pils, Brooklyn Pilsner or Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils at them. (Bonus: Mama’s comes in cans, for those that may deem bottles fancy.) Alternatively, you can upgrade to a regular Samuel Adams Lager or a New Belgium Fat Tire if you want to go with less bite and more malts.
If they’re Stella/Heineken fans, then you may have an opening for some more international flavor. Try a Hoegaarden witbier, or even a Saison Dupont. They look “normal,” but the favors are pretty interesting. (For domestic versions of the above, I recommend Avery White Rascal and Allagash Saison.)
Finally, if they’re Sam Adams fans, that’s just about ideal. If Sam is their fancy beer, that’s great, because Samuel Adams does a lot of rock solid beers; to me, it’s not winter until I have their Winter Lager. Here’s where you can (judiciously) start throwing around some more interesting stuff. Of course, the latest Sam seasonal is a good start. Maybe grab a Anchor Steam or Magic Hat #9. Any pale ale that isn’t massively hopped would be good, too.
What about Guinness? If you’re going to try to upgrade someone over Guinness, be careful, because few stouts out there will match it for it’s creamy, light feel. I’d suggest a Fort Collins Chocolate Stout or something similarly smooth and relatively low in alcohol. And frankly, there’s really nothing wrong with Guinness whatsoever — instead of trying to better it, bring along a brown ale like SweetWater Georgia Brown or a Dogfish Head Indian Brown to mix things up a bit. Meantime London Porter or Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald would work, too.
What NOT to bring: IPAs and double IPAs are acquired tastes for lots of people. That huge hoppy bitterness can alienate a lot of first-timers. Likewise, big Belgian brews could be hit or miss on flavor. More importantly, they tend to pack at least 8% ABV per serving, so if Uncle Ted likes to pound four or five Buds during the game, do NOT give him Duvel or anything made by Ommegang, Allagash or any Trappist monastery.
So there you have it. Now you can have good beer for your Super Bowl festivities and share it with others. Just remember to drink in moderation, don’t drink and drive, don’t be a jerk, all that good stuff. Responsibility is a beautiful thing.