We're just days away from the Super Bowl, one of the beer-drinkingest days of the year. Beer and football are natural companions, and not just because of the salt-of-the-earth, all-American image both enjoy. Because of its relatively low alcohol content, beer is also the best choice for a sports marathon of this sort, when viewers will spend hour after hour with glass in hand.
With the nationwide proliferation of smaller breweries, you don't have to stick to the mega-brands. The Super Bowl is an opportunity to offer your guests beverages with a local identity that appeals to fans' loyalties. Anheuser-Busch and the Clydesdales may own the advertising rights on the screen, but the audience in your living room can toast each touchdown with brews that reflect the spirit of the Patriots or the Giants.
The Giants may have won the last time these two teams met, but their hometown has the weaker brewing culture of the two. Despite its amazing restaurant and bar scene, New York never "got it" when it came to brewing craft beer. When the craft beer industry experienced a shakeout in the '90s, Manhattan was quick to assert that this "fad" was over. Some fad.
Happily for thirsty New Yorkers, another borough stepped up. When the Brooklyn Brewery opened 24 years ago, the "Brooklyn" tag was so unappealing that investors wanted it removed from the label. Today, that name is synonymous with some of the most eagerly awaited beers on the market. Although much of the actual production takes place upstate, the original brewery in Brooklyn recently expanded to 14 times its original capacity.
Also in Brooklyn, but at the other end of the size spectrum, is the tiny brewery that makes Coney Island Craft Lagers. The parent company, Shmaltz Brewing Company in California, is the source of Jewish-themed beers such as He'Brew and Jewbelation. The new Coney Island line supports the efforts of the arts organization Coney Island USA with unusual lager beer styles packaged with carny sideshow images.
Boston, meanwhile, understood the potential of craft brewing from the get-go. Boston Beer, the largest craft brewery in the country and the largest American-owned brewing company of any kind, has distributed the Samuel Adams line for 28 years. Its headquarters in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood is devoted to the brand's more experimental brews; like Brooklyn, it brews the bulk of its beer off-site. Such are the challenges of an urban brewery.
This leaves Boston's much smaller Harpoon Brewing Co.—with not even one-tenth the production of Boston Beer—as the biggest brewing facility in New England. Located in the industrial area near the docks, Harpoon is also one of craft brewing's pioneers, with lots of high-visibility projects in the local community.
And this just in from two of the breweries: If the New York Giants win, Harpoon will pour Brooklyn Lager in their Boston tasting room and their brewery tour staff will wear Giants jerseys for a week this winter. If the Patriots win, Brooklyn will pour Harpoon IPA in their pub for a week and the Brooklyn staff will wear Patriots jerseys.
Two teams. Four urban breweries. Millions of thirsty fans. Consider some of these choices for your Super Bowl entertaining.