It's Wednesday so... buckle-up!
It’s my favorite time of the year, March Madness, and I wanted this week’s hop-topic to revolve around sports and beer. Some time ago my good friend Dean and I were talking about the difference between Baseball and Football; in particular the difference between their fans’ political predilections. It got me to thinking about this week’s topic in a different light. If I were a sport, what beer would I be and what should you be drinking at each of these events? So I’ve decided to combine my two favorite things, yes, sports and beer, into one conversation.
Criteria: The beer must represent the sport in flavor, popularity, and charisma. IBUs will stand as an (albeit, not precise) benchmark for the points a game tends toward. ABV (Alcohol by volume) will serve as a catalyst for said sport’s fan following. And to qualify, these are my thoughts on how AMERICANS view these sports, with worldwide consideration. Any questions? Good, then let’s get started.
NFL – STOUT/PORTER
A dark, brooding game, big and strong with a serious smack to the head much like a stout, in color and flavor. Guinness is one of the most/the most popular beers in the world (neck and neck with both Stella and Budweiser) and like the best team in football history, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is boring and over-consumed. The IBUs are typically in the 30s-50s which may be a little bit high for a football game but this isn’t an exact science here, people! And the ABV tends to be up there, with Guinness on the short end of the total, much like our friends Therapists (Steelers), and the higher end being somewhere around 12%, richer and more fulfilling, like (gulp) The Chargers.
What you SHOULD drink while watching these games: At home I’d say go for something like Green Flash’s 30th Street Pale Ale, nice and big in hops, lighter in the ABV (6%,), perfect for a BBQ or just drinking with some buddies. Maybe even a Racer 5 from Bear Republic (7%) if you want to kick it up a notch. At the game, screw it and just get a Bud Light or a Coors Light. Who cares, you’re at a freakin’ football game and half of your beer is going to spill out anyway. Might as well save a few pennies because chances are you’ve been tailgating for three hours prior to the game and are probably already hammered.
MLB – Belgian Tripel
Baseball is a game of numbers, stats, and is America’s past time. It’s bright and colorful, slow and skillful. While the IBUs tend to be a little higher in Tripels (somewhere typically in the 40s – 70s) and thus, once again, is not an exact science. The ABV tends to be slightly lower than the stouts, as is America’s overall interest in the game. Delerium Tremmens is a perfect example of baseball as it is the most niche of beer consumers that regard this beer as one of the best beers in the world year in and year out. While I don’t necessarily have a direct correlation for the Yankees to a Belgian Tripel, the San Francisco Giants are perfect in comparison to the Delerium; beautiful, refreshing, interesting, fun to watch (unless you’re a Giants fan because their games are always so close) and the best in the world. Come on, give me this one! I’ve never been able to say that before.
What you SHOULD drink at a game? At home, do it; just have a nice Belgian Tripel or Quad. There are 162 games in a season so nobody is throwing a BBQ for every game. Just hang out, kick off the shoes, throw the recliner back and enjoy the game with a tasty brew or two. Maybe even check out my first two in my top ten beers, either the Hitachino XH or the Oro de Calabaza. At the game you should go for whatever craft beer your city provides. If you’re in San Diego check out a Stone beverage, in San Francisco an Anchor Steam, Colorado perhaps a New Belgium or Great Divide if they have it and if you find yourself in Chicago go for a Bell’s. I’ve been to hundreds of baseball games and the only time I’ve ever spilt a drink was during a walk-off homerun and when Barry Bonds hit his 756th jack. Yes, I am rubbing it in, folks.
NBA – Double IPA
Flashy, showy, in your face, braggadocios… you get the idea. I thank God every day for giving us IIPA’s and every basketball player seems to thank Him every time he slam-dunks. For the first time the IBUs match with the score as IIPAs tend to be the hoppiest bastards on the market, much like the ridiculous scoring of the National Basketball Association. ABV doesn’t quite match up with the popularity of this sport as IIPAs tend to be higher than Belgian Tripels. Pliny the Elder = The Celtics and Bear Republic’s Apex = The Lake Show. Guess which team I’m a fan of.
What beer you SHOULD drink while watching…? Who cares? If you’re at home watching the game, unless it’s the playoffs, pour yourself a nice tequila and do some laundry. Come back and poor a Belgian Strong Ale or a Speedway Stout with five minutes on the game clock (20 minutes in real time) and see if something special happens. If it is the playoffs, WHAT ARE YOU DOING AT HOME?!?! Go to a bar and have some fun (a direct shot at a good friend of mine).
Soccer – Hefeweisen
Nice, smooth, easy drinking, not so in your face, yet oh so delicious on a nice summer day (or any day for that matter.) They tend to be tough to master but when you do it is so so nice. Check out Franziskaner or Paulaner for the best Germany has to offer, which just so happens to be the motherland of the Hef. Americans don’t appreciate soccer any more than craft brew geeks appreciate a good Hef. Loooooow on the IBUs, as soccer is low on the score board and low on the ABV like the American appreciation of a good ole’ fashioned match of the original game of football. While Hefeweisens' popularity in the U.S. may be very low, just like soccer, across the globe a good Hef is something to be cherished.
What you SHOULD drink? I typically watch soccer games at bars and usually enjoy a nice IPA. Gets ya where you’re going without being too overbearing. Ballast Points Sculpin IPA is my preference while watching an important match but if you’re watching with true soccer fans at an Irish/English pub, good luck getting anything other than Bud or Guinness. And I wish I could tell you what to drink at the game, but I’ve never been to a really good EPL (English Premier League) game. Sorry.
NHL – Seriously? You wanted me to do one for the NHL? Go drink a Molson and call it a day.
As always my friends and foes, any comments or suggestions for next week’s topic would be appreciated in the comment section below, on Facebook, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, have a beer for me.
(ed. note: Re: Max spilling his beer when Bonds went yard for his 756th. There is no truth to the rumor that it was actually Bond's massive dome that bumped Max's beer cup in the stands while Bonds was rounding third.)