A Guest Contribution by Ale Sharpton
Sure, there is the sports element and hype of Super Bowl XLIX coming around, but it’s also one of the best eating and imbibing extravaganzas of the year. Everyone might be using their eyes to watch the game, but the mouth is getting a lot more action overall. With that being said, it’s an honor to pair some delicious ales and lagers with all of the fare that is about to be wolfed down on Sunday for my homies at Atlanta Eats. Now let’s get to it!
Buffalo Wings: Buffalo wings (at least the real ones since I am a native New Yorker), tend to possess a base of butter, a frying component and of course some spiciness, so an India Pale Ale is one of the more aggressive, complex and muscle-flexing beer styles that won’t get punked when it comes to, shall we say, getting lost in the sauce? The best out right now is the Victory Hop Ranch (plus it’s in season on a limited basis), the consistently solid Bell’s Two Hearted, and extra hoppy Green Flash Palate Wrecker, or show local love with the SweetWater IPA or Terrapin Hopsecutioner. Any one of these will put those wings in check and even enhance the heat!
Smoked Wings: Mmmmmm… Let’s go with something malty, slightly sweet, and able to complement that hickory essence: Enter the Oskar Blues Old Chub or Monday Night Drafty Kilt. If you are like Snoop Dogg and looooove smoke, wow onlookers (and your taste buds) with a rauchbier (smoked beer) with Germany’s own Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen. On the real, I have blown attendants of my beer dinners away with this one. Your wings will taste bacon wrapped. Seriously.
Pizza: Cheese. Tomato sauce. Numerous toppings. With all that complexity—plus oils and bread to fill you up—you should ideally grab a beer that is crisp, on the light side in body, and not overpowering, but still says “Hey, I’m here!” With that being said, consider pilsners like Three Tavern’s Pils Mondial and gangster Victory Prima Pils, or go with a sessionable (low in alcohol) IPA like Ballast Point’s Even Keel, Founder’s All Day or Terrapin’s RecreationAle. Extra credit: Their effervescence will scrub the tongue and refresh your palate with each sip.
A giant pile of nachos: Taking a page from my pairing philosophy with pizza, plus the heat from the jalapenos, I’d say we enter the world of lagers. Maybe keep it real and sip a Negra Modelo (this is my go-to at Mexican restaurants), or the awesome Reissdorf Kölsch which is phenomenal regarding being true to style. Besides the aforementioned pilsners or IPAs, go the slightly sweet route and resect your elders with a wheat brew by Weihenstephaner—the oldest existing brewery in the world—and you’re in the house! With all those flavors boasted by nachos, you can be very adventurous on the beer side.
Best beer from the Seattle region: There are unfortunately not a lot of beers from this region that we can purchase locally (although I am sure Elysian will make it this way in a year or two), so just sip something brewed by Rogue, one of the pioneers of the U.S. craft beer scene who happens to own Issaquah Brewhouse based in the state of Washington; it’s only 30 minutes away from Seattle by car. Like how I did that?
Best beer from the Boston area: You know, I kicked it with the founder of Samuel Adams a few times—Jim Koch—so instead of going the easy route and listing the legendary Boston Lager, I am going with the Rebel Rouser Double IPA. Plus it’s a West Coast-style brew for the rub in? Ouch!
What session beer to drink if you want to actually finish the game? Besides any of the sessionables I listed above from Terrapin, Ballast, and Founders, maybe the Stone Go To or Lagunitas DayTime. (Hey, I’m a hop head so there has to be some flavor involved!) That is, unless you somehow get a hold of a keg of the Creature Comforts Tritonia Gose, but you need more pull than a Rottweiler for that. (Shout out to Grand Puba.)
What to drink in celebration: Anything that has a cork in it for that celebratory “pop,” or a mind-blowing imperial porter or stout since I haven’t mentioned that style yet. Oh! How about Ballast Point’s Victory At Sea if Seattle wins? Get it? Plus it’s West Coast. Boom!
What to drink in defeat: Hmmmmm…there is no loser if you are sippin’ an awesome craft beer, but hey, sulk with class and pour a bottle of Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde tripel which translates to “end of the world,” or be totally in denial and cheer yourself up with a SweetWater Happy Ending Imperial Stout.
Who do you have winning? A lot depends on Richard Sherman’s elbow, but I still have Seattle in a nail biter. Plus, Brady didn’t look 100 percent with that nasty cold and you haaaave to be on point against the Legion of Boom. Winning two fantasy leagues this year, I go with my gut. Cheers!
Dennis Malcolm Byron aka Ale Sharpton is a world-renowned beer authority, award-winning journalist, blogger (AleSharpton.com), photographer and show host (Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’) who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter @alesharpton and Instagram @realalesharpton.