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Super Bowl XLIII Drink #1: Beer

Posted by Reese on 2009-01-27 @ 04:27pm

I imagine that were I to ask 10 people randomly what alcoholic beverage I should get for a Super Bowl party 9.5 of those people would say beer.  For the record, one guy was kinda on the fence between beer and green tea, but I think he might have problems.  All kidding aside, beer is the most popular beverage consumed during the Super Bowl, and I’m willing to go out on a limb and include all football games in that statistic.  It makes sense too.  Beer is relatively cheap, there are a zillion different types to choose from, and it tastes good, or so they claim.

Thing is, the Super Bowl is a long event.  If you figure in some pre-game and post-game TV you’re looking at a possible six hours of football.  You and your buddies clearly can’t be hammering back a beer with an ABV of 9% for that amount of time.  No one would be able to get home, even if they’re walking.  You also don’t want a beer that has a huge or exotic flavor to it.  You’d end up drinking a couple and be done for the day.  Again, not going to work.  The solution?  Session beers.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Lew Bryson of Seen Through a Glass has a series of posts on his site called the Session Beer Project.  In his outline of the project he details what he considers to be the qualities of a session beer.  In summary:

  1. Alcohol under 4.5%
  2. A flavor that doesn’t overpower
  3. The beer doesn’t overpower the conversation
  4. Reasonable price

Basically, the beer should be inexpensive, flavorful but not overly powerful or so interesting that it takes the focus away from the activity at hand and fairly low in alcohol.  The benefits of going with a beer like this?  Well, for one, you can drink them all day and not get exceedingly drunk.  Second, the beer isn’t all that pricey so you don’t feel bad buying a bunch for when your mooch friends show up empty handed.  Third, the beer has a good flavor that isn’t overly powerful.  You can drink them for the duration of the game and not get “beered out” as it were.  Finally, the flavor isn’t so off the wall that it causes you all to stop watching the game and discuss the subtle nuances of the brew.

So what do you choose?  Well, since I’m not much of a beer guy I can’t give too much input on this one so I turned to my friends first.  Chris, who generously offered his input for the beer tasting, had this to say “Why on god’s green earth would you want low alcohol beer?”  Which, although a valid point, doesn’t help much.  Being from the great state of Arizona he did profer one suggestion that might be worth checking out if you’re a Cardinals fan, namely 8th Street Ale from Four Peaks Brewing Company.  Which at 4.5% ABV comes in at the top end of our scale.

Next I turned to my cousin Tara and her husband Steve, both natives of Pittsburgh and huge Steelers fans (Yes, they even have a drawer full of “Terrible Towels“.)  Steve’s initial suggestion is Iron City Light (4.15% ABV) which is still consumed regularly among locals.  Although Iron City Lager (4.5% ABV) fits our rules and is claimed to be “the ‘Burgh’s signature beer” my local sources are telling me to avoid it.  The exact review was “It’s terrible.”  Good enough for me.  If you’re wanting to go with a microbrew instead, Penn Pilsner (4.0% ABV) from the Penn Brewing Company comes highly recommended.

That should at least get you started and you’re looking for some other suggestions, take a peek at the Top Session Beers list put together by BeerAdvocate.  Lew also has reviews on his site of each of the beers he’s tried in the Session Beer Project.  Definitely worth taking a look if you’re wanting to try something new.