When your team doesn’t make the Super Bowl (and let’s face it, most don’t), the best part of watching the non-commercials part of the game is the menu.
Whether your team made it or not, though, the Super Bowl is really a beer event at its heart.
By now, you almost certainly have plans for Sunday and probably they include grabbing some beer to enjoy with your snacks. “With,” here is the operative word. Beer makes food taste better and food brings out the flavors in beer. The carbonation scrubs your taste buds and makes them a little more receptive to the subtleties of both the beer and the food.
Choosing what beer to bring to a party can get overwhelming if you try and take everything from the guest list to the menu into consideration. Instead, pick your favorite beer and bring a snack that complements it, or just bring a beer that goes best with the types of foods you like. Seriously, though, if you go to someone’s house, bring a snack with you (a bag of chips is fine).
If you’re hosting, rather than suffer over which to get, grab a couple of each.
Here are some common Super Bowl snacks and styles of beers that go well enough with them chosen as much for their taste as how easy they are to find at the store. You should be able to get the listed beers at pretty much any place that has a craft beer selection.
If you live near a brewery, though, it’s best to walk in and grab something they have on tap that people will like and that might be a little rarer. The bartender will be happy to help you choose.
From Doritos to Utz, chips are a given at pretty much any party, and while there surely is a different beer that is best with each chip, for now we’ll paint in broad strokes.
And when it comes to broad strokes, you’re not going to do better than a simple pale ale. They tend to be just a little bitter and often are lower in alcohol, so you can have a few. Mispillion River’s Space Otter, 3rd Wave’s Shore Break, and Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale are great and widely available in cans.
This is one of those dishes that is common to Super Bowl parties but hardly anywhere else. It is heavy and a little indulgent and one of those dishes that makes everyone look good.
This, along with similar big spicy dips that could technically double as a meal, needs a bigger beer to hold up to it. Double IPAs that are still bitter but also malty enough for the sweetness to fight the spice are a great choice here. Evolution Craft’s Lot 6, Tall Tales’ Bonnie and Clyde and Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute are all solid, solid local choices that are easy to get your hands on.
If you’re making chili, this is a great opportunity to pour a little beer in when you’re cooking, because a roasty stout or even a porter is going to give it a little more breadth. Whether you’re making it or just expecting to have some, though, you can’t go wrong with a darker, a more roasty beer.
The downside is, they can be a little filling. So even though you might want to cook with the stout, an amber or a brown ale will give you the same kind of roasty malt flavor, but not so much of it. Three different levels of flavor, from heaviest to lightest are Dogfish’s Indian Brown, Evo’s Exile Red and New Belgium’s Fat Tire. All are easy drinking enough to cool and amplify any chili from zesty to aggressively hot.
Speaking of foods that can be served from zesty to aggressively hot, Buffalo wings as well as Buffalo-themed dips, salads and even meatless versions always will be served well by IPAs, but for some really fun pairings, it might be best to go with the fruitier ones. Three great but different local ones are 3rd Wave’s Male’ana Grapefruit IPA, Evo’s PineHopple IPA and Dogfish’s Flesh and Blood (orange) IPA.
Of course, it is possible that one of your teams is in the Super Bowl in which case you may want to show some solidarity in your craft beer, which is perfectly fine. People may question your taste in football teams, but not in beer.
Pairings by team
Both Philadelphia and Boston have lots of great breweries, but two in particular are part of an inter-city Super Bowl wager. Yards and Harpoon respectively bet one another a tap takeover in which the losing brewery would sell the winning brewery’s beer for a day.
From that perspective, it would seem fitting to grab a six-pack or two to go along with your team.
Yards Brewing in Philadelphia makes two really accessible beers that are pretty easy to come by at beer stores with significant selections.
Philadelphia Pale Ale is light and crisp and goes well with stuff from the fruit and veggie tray, as well as with spicy, vinegary snacks from wings to hot dogs or pretzels or whatever else you can slather in mustard. Brawler Ale is a solid English mild, which means it is a little darker, and a lot less bitter than an IPA. It’s a main course kind of beer that pairs well with burgers and strong cheeses.
Harpoon IPA from Boston also is pretty easy to come by and will hold up to any traditional football sides, including the ire of Patriots haters. It isn’t super-bitter, but it’s still an IPA. Harpoon IPA will go with it nicely enough with pretty much anything that’s salty or fried or, ideally, both.