With the Super Bowl looming, we are gearing up for an occasion where beer seems to be the only beverage thought to be appropriate. I almost feel I should give a wine writer a shot at convincing you to serve a nice cab during this year's game. Almost.
Sunday will be a massive beer day. During the week preceding the Super Bowl, beer sales are 20 percent higher than in other weeks in January and February. Beer is to the Super Bowl party what turkey is to Thanksgiving—indispensable. And once the game starts, a sizeable part of the audience is as interested in the beer advertising as the football. Anheuser-Busch will be the only national beer advertiser this year, with the beloved Clydesdales back by popular demand in support of Budweiser, and a minute spot devoted to Bud's Belgian cousin, Stella Artois.
Given the central role of beer at this event, let's cast an appraising eye at the teams that will meet in Arlington, Texas. Leave the passing rates and total first downs to the sports pundits: Here's how the Packers and the Steelers stack up in terms of home state beer credibility. On this unscientific measurement, careful readers will find that the two teams are tied, obviously not an acceptable Super Bowl result. So the overtime sudden-death beer question is: When Prohibition began in 1919, which state had more breweries, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin? The answer: Pennsylvania, with 191 recorded breweries; Wisconsin had 116. (North Carolina had ... none.)
Number of hometown breweries 4 6 Steelers: More breweries in Pittsburgh, and one is the amazing Church Works, built in a decommissioned church
Number of home state breweres 96 87 Packers
Breweries by state population 1 brewery per 59,239 residents 1 brewery per 146,050 residents Packers: Those folks love their beer!
Distinctive brewpub chain Great Dane, five locations Iron Hill, five locations Steelers: Iron Hill was named 2005 Brewpub of the Year.
Multi-generational breweries Jacob Leinenkugel in Chippewa Falls, founded in 1867, now owned by Miller, with family members in executive positions D.G. Yuengling in Pottsville, founded in 1829, now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generations Steelers: Yuengling is America's oldest brewing company, and still independent.
Other historic brewing companies Miller, Stevens Point Straub, Iron City, Latrobe, The Lion Packers: Miller is an international heavyweight.
Pioneering craft breweries Sprecher Stoudts Tie: Both groundbreaking craft breweries of the 1980s. And they both have beer gardens.
Cool newer breweries New Glarus, Capital, Lakefront, Tyranena Weyerbacher, Victory, Tröegs Narrow win for Packers: New Glarus gets extra points for unobtainability and its Belgian Red.
First recorded brewery Rablin and Bray Brewhouse, Elk Grove, 1836 Henry Badock's Edinburgh Brewhouse, Philadelphia, 1685 Steelers
Quarterback connections Former quarterback named Brett, also the name of a wild beer yeast. Current quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, born in Chico, Calif., home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been known to visit bars. Packers
Mainstream lager for your Super Bowl party Schlitz Iron City Steelers: Iron City gets points for history and local identity.
Crafty but approachable beer for your Super Bowl party Sprecher Special Amber Victory Prima Pils Packers: A chance to convince conservative guests to branch out with an amber beer
Extreme beer to bring out for the fourth quarter Sprecher Doppelbock in a swing-top liter bottle, strong but sophisticated Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Stout Steelers: Fat Dog, by a nose
Most appropriate beer if your team wins Miller High Life Victory St. Victorius Steelers
Most appropriate beer if your team loses Colt 45 Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Steelers: Cheesehead brewers give their beers such prosaic names.