You can’t talk about a Super Bowl party without talking about BEER! For today’s post, we went right to the experts. We asked our friends at Outer Light Brewing Company in Groton, our host venue for our February 16th Pop Up Dinner (some seats still available!), for some input and Tyler Cox, their Brewmaster, sent in the following phenomenal piece. Cheers!
Howdy folks. Tyler Cox here, Brewmaster for Outer Light Brewing Company in Groton, CT.
Unless you’ve been living with your head in a keg, you’ve probably heard that the Super Bowl takes place Sunday night. The Super Bowl is the most watched television show in the history of US television. Last year, more than 114 million people tuned in. That’s over a third of the US population!
Sports fan or not, the Super Bowl makes for a great excuse to throw a party. When you’re serving up delectable dishes for your friends, make sure you’ve got the right beers to pair with them. A proper pairing enhances the taste of both the food and the beers and may highlight subtle flavors that you’d never noticed. Plus, it’s fun to geek out a little, and having fun is the whole point of parties, right?
Here are a few ideas for your festive day, from the mind of a guy who knows a little something about beer.
Buffalo Chicken Wings
A Super Bowl staple, hot wings emphasize the sauce and need a beer that can hold up to the heat. Stick with something hoppy, preferably an IPA or pale ale that’s soft and juicy as opposed to wildly bitter. The citrus and tropical hop flavors will both complement and contrast the hot sauce. Just remember that it’s a long game, so avoid the double IPAs.
Or go in the opposite direction with a light, tart German-style beer, such as a Gose or Berliner Weisse, These refreshing styles offer respite from the spice, and their lightly salty flavor complements the salty meat beneath the heat. Plus, they have the low alcohol content needed for marathon drinking.
This simple, unadorned pizza showcases the true skill of a pizza maker. Without bold ingredients to hide imperfections, you can tell if your favorite spot is the real deal…or not. Pair it with a classic beer which has the same qualities, such as a Pilsner, Kolsch, or golden ale.
A little spice can be nice. Try this topping with a balanced amber ale that displays some caramel sweetness, or quaff a mild pale ale to cut some of the spice.
Bold, spicy, heavy. There’s a lot of big flavor here, so you need a beer that can keep up. I suggest a Biere de garde or another earthy, spicy, full-bodied Belgian brew. Even better if the pizza has mushrooms.
Ham and Pineapple
This one is my go-to, so I have a strong opinion about it. I like a good rauchbier (smoked beer), or anything lightly smoked. The smokey malt blends well with the sweet ham, and the caramel sweetness works with most red pizzas.
Pizzas need more subtlety without the red sauce. Try them with a witbier, or Belgian white ale. Their light malt backbone and fruity yeast balance out the pizza’s delicate olive oil and herbal blend.
Nachos dripping with cheese, tomatoes, possibly red meats, other garnishes, and more cheese…woof. That’s a heavy undertaking. In general, lighter beers pair well with fatty foods. Stick with something simple. A Pilsner or cream ale works here.
Local suggestions: Two Roads Ol’ Factory Pils, Thomas Hooker Munich Lager
Guacamole, with its rich flavor and creamy texture, needs more than just a light beer. A Vienna lager is smooth, expressive, malty, and lightly sweet. It’s a perfect complement to guac.
Local suggestion: Stony Creek Dock Time
A simple hamburger, with or without cheese, opens up a multitude of options. You want a bit of body and flavor for this dish. An altbier, a crisp German brown with a touch of fruit from the yeast, might be your best bet. Amber ales and pale ales also provide depth of flavor without overpowering the meat.
Ribs and Other Smoked Meat
The absolute best pairing for those sweet, rich, smokey ribs (or any other red meat that’s well prepared) is one of the more elusive styles in the industry: black IPA, aka American black ale, aka India black ale. The more hop forward, the better. Avoid piney variants and look for something more tropical.
Because so many varieties of cheese exist, it’s difficult to pick just one beer for “cheese.” Lighter beers work well with mozzarella, farmhouse ales pair with brie, gouda needs a malty sweet brown ale, and aged cheddar loves an IPA.
If you’re hankering for a veggie option and have some asparagus, carrots, peppers, or mushrooms to toss on the grill, I highly suggest an Irish stout or Schwarzbier (black lager). You want something with good roast character and minimal hops to balance the sweetness.
Time to wind down?
Try one of these heavy-hitting specialty dessert beers:
Steady Habit Humorous Attempts at Being Good Stout, Outer Light Barrel Aged Liberation Propagation Imperial Stout, Thimble Island Mutually Assured Destruction Russian Imperial Stout, Veracious OAC Maple Bourbon Imperial Stout, Thomas Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout, Two Roads Igor’s Dream Russian Imperial Stout
The suggested pairings I made here are just that – suggestions. Many styles pair easily with a certain food items, especially Super Bowl fare. So get out there and support your local breweries. There’s no shortage of good beer around here. If you plan on getting together with a group of friends to watch the game, have everyone bring something different and try it all. Expand your palate. See which beers and foods pair best according to your taste buds. Have fun with it!
But, most importantly, remember to drink responsibly. I want to see your shining faces in the Outer Light Taproom soon.
Outer Light Brewing Co.