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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Beer

If predictions hold, this afternoon's Super Bowl will draw one of the largest audiences in history. (Had the Packers won, it would have been not only the most-watched in history, but a cultural event as well. Alas.) But since the game is often the least-interesting aspect of the spectacle, it's wise to ensure you've got good beer on hand. For Patriots fans, that's a short order. My lovely and talented spouse, Sally, hails from New England, and I make biennial trips East to visit her fam. Over the years, I've managed to sample a pretty wide selection. Unfortunately, we don't get distribution out here, but you can use the following list as a handy tip-sheet in case you're headed to the region.

First things first. It's the New England Patriots. Fans in Maine and Vermont follow Boston teams as avidly as if they were home-staters, especially the Red Sox. Foxboro Stadium, where the Pats play, is actually far enough out of Boston that it's on the way to Rhode Island. So when you think of appropriate beers, you can look beyond Massachussets. So without further yammering, here's what I'd have in the fridge today if I were watching from Beantown.

Harpoon IPA
Forget Sam Adams, this is the signature beer of Boston. It's on tap everywhere, and locals seem to have a sentimental, emotional connection to it. Sam Adams is, to locals, a national brand trading on the Boston cachet, not a Boston brewery--or so it has seemed from my observation. Harpoon IPA is akin to BridgePort's--it's a lowish-alcohol brew (5.9%) that sings with hoppy goodness. Only 42 IBUs, but it's a saturated hoppiness that offers a whole lot of flavor along with the modest bitterness. It's an extremely likeable beer, and possibly my fave from New England.

Geary's Pale
DL Geary Brewing is the Deschutes of New England--they make traditional English-style ales that are exceptional from top to bottom. The pale is their flagship, and it would fly of the shelves in Beervana. It combines some new world hopping (Cascade) with the classic English hop fuggle to make a mostly-English pint, with a bit of NW character. The London Porter is also exceptional, and if the snow were flying, I might opt for it instead.

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout
Shipyard is another Portland, Maine brewery. While their lineup isn't quite as uniform as Geary's the Blue Fin Stout is amazing. I earlier wrote about it: "The aroma, of rich chocolate, is delightful but misleading--as you discover with the first sip, which has not the hint of sweetness. It's a bit like smelling baker's chocolate. It is a wonderful beer, thick and dense, highlighted by the strongest roasted barley I've tasted in a stout. It produces a earthy, rooty darkness on the palate that is intense like coffee, though more akin to chicory or even beets. (Hard to claim that beets taste good in beer, but here the note is delightful.) It was a beer brewed to cut through the harshest North Atlantic winds (and they are harsh)."

Sam Adams Black Dark Lager
Okay, maybe most Bostonians wouldn't have this in their fridge, but I would. A classic schwarzbier, creamy and light-bodied but full of roasty flavor, it would be a perfect session for a long, potentially boring game.

You may note that I have spurned New York beers, of which there are some good ones. This is intentional. The Giants beat my Packers, so screw 'em. Go Pats!

3 comments:

Butch said...

Isn’t it Sam Adams “Black” Lager?

And, yeah, I agree. Screw the Giants. I haven’t been able to even watch SportsCenter since the Pack lost to that sissy-boy Eli. As much as I dislike the Patriots, I’ll be cheering for them to make history today.

Brian (Beer:30 Chair For Life) said...

Ah, this brings back good memories. I was a postdoc at MIT, and came close to applying to Mass. Bay Brewing Co. at one point. One of my fondest memories is having a Geary's Pale in their Portland Maine taproom. One of the best beers I've ever had.

Jeff Alworth said...

Butch, right you are--I'll make the change.

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