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Friday, February 03, 2012

The Super Bowl (of Beer)

All right, sports fans, let's go to the tale of the tape. In the blue corner, I give you the dynasty of the aughts, the golden boy quarterback, the irascible coach everyone hates to love--the New England Patriots!* They hail from the Bay State, famous for tea parties and baked beans. They like their clam chowder creamy and they drive like lunatics.

  • Claim to beer fame: The Green Dragon pub, where revolution was hatched.
  • Number of breweries: 42 (rank: 13th)
  • Per capita: 1 in 156,000 (rank: 22nd)
  • Largest brewery: Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams)
  • Most interesting brewery: Pretty Things
  • Best brewery (arguably): Cisco Brewers (I'll accept Harpoon as well)
  • Secret shame: Clown Shoes
  • Classic pour: Harpoon IPA

And in the other blue corner, I give you the usurpers, the underachievers, the whingers, the team that plays in New Jersey--the New York Giants!** They hail from the Empire State (sort of), the point of origin for everyone from Joey Ramone to Donald Trump. They like their chowder tomayto-y, unless you're on Broadway, where it might be tomahto-y. In Manhattan, they don't drive at all if they can help it.

New York
  • Claim to beery fame: home of America's first brewery.
  • Number of breweries: 59 (rank: 8th)
  • Per capita: 1 in 328,000 (rank: 40th)
  • Largest brewery: Matt Brewing (Saranac)
  • Most interesting brewery: Captain Lawrence (I'll accept Ithaca)
  • Best brewery (no argument): Ommegang
  • Secret shame: Bronx Brewery (brewed in Connecticut)
  • Classic pour: Brooklyn Lager

We cannot say who will win the Super Bowl, but I award New York the win by decision in the beer bowl. Any state with Ommegang is going to be damned tough to beat. Massachusetts underperforms in New England, and if they could call on the favors of Portsmouth, Geary, and Allagash, the judges would be in trouble.

*Having married into a New England family, I am helpless to resist the Patriot charm. Gronkowski, Welker, Woodhead--I mean, come on.

**But I'm truly a Packer fan, and twice the Giants have eliminated us from the playoffs recently. Peyton's little brother has always bugged me; the guy's constantly got a look on his face that says, "hey, you can't do that, I'm a Manning." And Coughlin always just looks bewildered. Go Pats!


  1. Are you truly excepting Ithaca, or are you accepting it?

  2. ACcepting. Thank you for the careful read. I write these things late at night, and mistakes happen. I refuse to accept agency.

  3. They're the New England Patriots, not the Massachusetts Patriots. And yes, the Giants play in Jersey, the armpit of America. Go Pats!

  4. I am rooting for the NYG [the G-Men] but doubt they can best Belichick 2-for-2.

    The Boston Beer Company is now the largest American-owned beer company in the USofA [per wikip]; but, last heard, contract brewed mostly outside Massachusetts; Boston Beer Co. produce very good artisan beers.

    Personal experience on the I-95 justifies calling many 'Bay State' drivers: Massholes.

  5. It's quite interesting that NY Sen. Schumer is wagering beer from six New York breweries on the Giants. His wagering partner? New Hampshire Sen. Shaheen, putting up beer from Smuttynose on the Pats. Where are the Massachusetts gamblers and beers?

  6. Pete,

    Massachussetts politicians are far too moral and ethical to engage in gambling!


    I think you can accept the Harpoon UFO as "Classic Pour" as well, as being a wheat beer it's got all the crossover appeal to people who don't go as deep into craft beer as we do.

  7. @ JackR "BBC...contract brewed mostly outside Massachusetts"

    The vast percentage of BBC's beer is brewed out of state, but it's now almost all "in-house" at company-owned breweries in Cincinnati (ex-Schoenling) and outside Allentown, PA (ex-Schaefer, once listed at 5m bbl./yr capacity).

    "During 2010, the Company brewed over 95% of core brand
    volume at Company-owned breweries" is how their 2010 annual report put it.

  8. Haven't had Clown Shoes beer, is it shameful?

  9. I've always wondered whether Sam Adams should be considered a MA brewery--I think the jury's seriously out among locals. I believe Harpoon, a great brewery with an unconflicted relationship with Bostonians, is the next biggest MA brewery.

    Vasili, I linked the Clown Shoes story, as I should have done initially.

  10. Ouch, yes, I remember that now. As a brewer who has been at the mercy of a marketing teams brilliant ideas (sever sarcasm implied) at my previous breweries, I feel for the brewers who may have this trash or baggage heaped on the front of their beer. Otherwise, they made their own beds. No accounting for taste (or lack thereof), I guess.

  11. How could you write about what New England has to offer for suds and not mention Shipyards, probably the one good thing about the state of main. Shipyard pumpkinheads during the fall and holiday season are so good I could marry them.