Hosting a Super Bowl party is an American rite of passage. No pressure, but you don’t want to screw it up.
It’s often the beer that separates a pleasant get-together from a classic party. Anyone can pick up a couple cases of the popular domestics, but many drinkers are becoming more savvy about their suds.
It might be time to raise the bar at your bash.
Beer expert Pat Fahey, a master cicerone, said his ideal beer lineup for a lengthy gathering such as a Super Bowl party should consist of lower alcohol content selections. “You don’t necessarily want to serve something that will have them hammered by the end of the first quarter,” Fahey said.
Most of these brews shouldn’t be hard to find and will add some excitement to your guests’ drink selections this Sunday:
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
This one is a given and can be found in grocery stores across the country. Pale ale has become the top-selling craft beer style in the country in recent years and Fahey said it won’t alienate people who don’t consider themselves beer aficionados. “Even for people who don’t have a lot of beer experience, this is a popular choice,” Fahey said. He added that the popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a “world-class example” of that style.
Guinness Blonde American Lager
For more than 250 years, Ireland-based Guinness has been keeping beer lovers happy — and buzzed. This new style promises a lighter taste than what many of your guests might expect from Guinness. Fahey liked this one for a Super Bowl party because “it’s approachable,” adding that he served it at his family’s holiday gathering last year. The company’s website promises its Blonde American Lager is “crisp, light, but flavorful” with citrus characteristics.
Goose Island Sofie
Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. is one of the most widely-available craft beer brands in the business and this elegant flavor will appeal to your most sophisticated Super Bowl party guests. Fahey once again praised this Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale for its approachability. The folks at Goose Island recommend pairing Sofie with shellfish.
Goose Island Matilda
Like Sofie, this Goose Island offering is a Belgian-style beer but in this case it’s a pale ale with a slightly higher alcohol content. Fahey said experienced beer tasters may be familiar with Matilda but, “It’s new and different and interesting for people that haven’t had something like it.”
This India Pale Ale (IPA) selection from California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company might not be easily found in the eastern United States but if you can track it down, Fahey fervently recommended it. On its website, the company claims you’ll be able to “knock back more than one without wearing yourself out.” In fall 2013, sales statistics showed Lagunitas alongside Dos Equis and Angry Orchard as fast-growing brands.
Harder-to-find beers to serve on Super Bowl Sunday:
Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils
When pressed to select his ultimate Super Bowl beer wishlist, Fahey listed this German-style Pilsner at the top. It’s refreshing, light and straw-colored, making this an approachable craft beer for casual drinkers. Firestone Walker Brewing Company is based in California and Fahey said it will likely be a difficult find for people who don’t live in the west.
Victory Prima Pils
For people who live in the eastern United States, Fahey recommended this craft pilsner from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Company. At 5.3 percent alcohol by volume, Prima Pils likely won’t put your guests on the floor. The drink can be paired with seafood, pizza or burgers, according to the company’s website, making it ideal Super Bowl fare.
Founders All Day IPA
This is another approachable IPA that Fahey recommended because of its low alcohol content. “It’s easy to drink and fantastically delicious,” he said. All Day IPA contains 4.7 percent alcohol by volume and is one of the flagship year-round offerings from Michigan-based Founders Brewing Co.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
If you want to serve something dark, Fahey gave the thumbs-up to this flagship offering from Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery. Despite its imposing chocolate tint, Black Butte won’t knock your guests out thanks to its 5.2 percent alcohol by volume measure.
Anderson Valley The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose
It’s moniker is a mouthful but Fahey said this German-style gose (pronounced “Go-zuh”) beer is refreshing and slightly tart. Gose beer dates back to the year 700 and according to Fahey, “has recently become extremely popular.” If you can’t find Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s offering, several sizable craft breweries have made their own in recent years including Samuel Adams and Magic Hat.
Now let’s just hope the game is as good as the beverages.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.