13 Super Bowl Beer Picks From Local Beer Experts

The arrival of Super Bowl XLIX this Sunday guarantees, at the very least, three occurrences: a hard-hitting game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, a heartstring-yanking Budweiser commercial confirmed to reconnect last year’s “Puppy Love” crew of mammals and my annual viewing of “In Living Color’s” game-changing live episode that originally aired opposite of Super Bowl XXVI’s halftime show in 1992.

My cursory exploration of the third: The decision by FOX to battle head-to-head with the Super Bowl’s halftime extravaganza may seem (foot)ballsy and foolish now, but at the time, America’s definitive pop-music stage was more of an amateurish, state fair-style spectacle displayed best (or worst) by the well-oiled, magenta suspenders-wearing bodybuilders flexing among a tapdancing Goofy and an elephant-riding monkey. Seriously.

Another example of the top-grade entertainment one could previously expect was 1992’s “Winter Magic” celebration, which delivered a two-song set by Gloria Estefan and a figure skating performance by Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill. FOX rightfully capitalized on this fumble with an uncensored and unsurprisingly controversial assault from Keenen Ivory Wayans’s crew; and it was a wild success, capturing over 20 million viewers from CBS and forcing the Super Bowl’s no-joke recruitment of Michael Jackson to perform the following year. We can credit “In Living Color’s” chutzpa with effectively ending the goofyness and birthing the modern-day halftime show: the Nipplegated, Beyoncé-jiggling shindig we happily watch with the expectation of seeing larger-than-life and potentially disastrous moments. Farewell, Up With People and Elvis Presto!

My favorite part of the excellent “In Living Color” episode is a “Men On Football” sketch with Blaine Edwards (Damon Wayans) and Antoine Merriweather (David Allen Grier) offering their opinions on football “from a male point of view.” At one point during the six-minute skit, Merriweather says “nothing beats that requisite moment of tension right before the play begin, as the muscular, sweaty, football mens get down on their line of scrimmage. There they is, eyeball to eyeball, they breaths comin’ out just like steam from a big bull’s nostrils. I just got three words to describe it: De! Li! Cous!

While I don’t disagree with his sultry statement, another source of deliciousness during one’s viewing of football should always derive from beer — and especially if properly planned. Us drinkers are presented with a dizzying amount of options to glug during game day. To help us sort through the options, we recruited some of our favorite craft-beer folks across New York City provide their Super Bowl selections. What do you plan on drinking?

Harpoon Brewery Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 6.9%
Find this at: Carmine Street Beers, 52A Carmine St., West Village, 212.633.2337; $11.99 for six-pack of 12-ounce bottles

If you’re a Patriots fan looking for a beer that represents the team you’re cheering for, perhaps this hoppy offering from New England’s second-largest brewery can carry you to victory. The rye imparts a spicy aroma and flavor offset by a generous addition of Chinook and Centennial hops. The dry-hopping of this concoction — named for the co-founders of the brewery — adds a burst of citrus on the front and a pleasant dry, bitter finish. Best of all, if the Patsies lose, the 6.9 percent ABV will insulate you from the mockery of Seahawks fans… or more likely, Giants fans who crushed your dreams twice before.
Chris O’Leary, editor of Brew York

Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
Find this at: C-Town Supermarket, 40-12 28th Ave., Astoria, 718.278.3000; $11.99 for six-pack of 12-ounce bottles

Us beer folk have a certain loyalty; we like to keep it local. But it can’t always be that way. While New York City’s breweries are cranking out a few good lagers here and there, we as consumers are spoiled by having the best in the world on our doorstep. For the Superbowl, Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils from Paso Robles, California occupies that spot. Yes, it’s part of the West Coast tradition of hoppy beers. But as a lager, Pivo Pils is a hybrid of European pilsner beer styles, only dry-hopped with German Saphir hops to lend a powerful bouquet of spice, flowers, and tangerine. The beer finishes with a clean crispness and despite the hops, not too much bitterness; it is absolutely still a light lager. A balanced easy-drinking beer, it is a great addition to any Superbowl beverage lineup that will please ordinary citizens and provide enough character to keep craft drinkers happy. And at 5.3 percent alcohol, it won’t deflate your desire for another. Given all the bad beer commercials we’ll be watching, something tasty to sip on might be more important than we think.
—Brendan Woodcock, Certified Cicerone

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (#1), Full Sail’s Session Black Lager (#2)
Style: IPA, Dunkel/Tmavý
ABV: 6.7%, 5.4%
Find #1 at: St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe, 533 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, 347.763.2261; $2.79 for 12-ounce bottle.
Find #2 at: Cortelyou Craft Beer, 1211 Cortelyou Rd., Ditmas Park, 718.284.4446; $15.00 for 12-pack of 12-ounce bottles.

Kelly grew up in Washington and has been a lifelong Seahawks fan. For reference, that’s a bit like being a lifelong Jets fan in terms of heartbreak and frustration. Even though I suspect he’ll be too engrossed in the game to notice much, we’ll be proudly serving two offerings from the great Pacific Northwest. The first is Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA. It’s all there in the name. A nice citrusy hop nose nicely balanced by a rich malt bill. Goes down really easily, especially for 6.7% ABV. To balance out that selection, we’ll also offer Full Sail’s Session Black Lager. Malty with just a hint of coffee and chocolate notes, it’s a great choice for those not wanting hops on a cold winter’s night.
—Sonya Giacobbe and Kelly Taylor, owners of KelSo Beer Company

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Katherine Hernandez

Katherine Hernandez is an Afro-Latina chef and multimedia journalist. Her work has been published on NPR Food, PRI's The World, Edible Manhattan, Feet in 2 Worlds, Gothamist and more.

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