The Unwavering, Perfect Union of Football and Beer
Up 35-14 at the half, I took a deep breath, spooned a glob of Trader Joe’s Chana Masala into my gullet and swigged, calmly, on a beautiful Light In The Window – Burlington Beer Company’s flagship Rye IPA.
See, my Philadelphia Eagles were in the process of besting the league champion New England Patriots. I was happy and calm. I figured it only appropriate to toast my New England brethren with a fine ale made by their native sons...
I wasn't calm though. The Burlington Beer was sublime, but during the first and final quarters, I was ferociously and unsavorily downing Yuengling Lager (or as we Philadelphians simply call it, Lager) during the first and final quarters of the game where my beloved, and simultaneously loathed, Eagles were in the process of throwing it all away. My wife eyed me cautiously, as she does every Sunday, as if to say “why do you do this to yourself?” She didn’t grow up in a sports-obsessed family. And while she remains a steadfast lover of ales, stouts, lagers, and all manner of great beer, lost on her is the unwavering, perfect union of football and beer.
You can trace the football season with the evolution of the beer season, and yes, I maintain that there are definitive seasons for particular styles of beer.
Football starts in late August/early September. As the summer says goodbye, weeks one through three of the pro season are still inviting of those summer ales or sours we might still have around from Labor Day. Give me a Bell’s Oberon or a Monk’s Flemish Sour and I’m a happy camper.
Come October and November and we give way to our darker friends -- the deep and malty Bocks, festive Oktoberfests, and of course, the oft-over hyped Pumpkin beers. And don’t forget about our favorite Brown Ales. Nothing makes me happier than watching the first snow flurry fall on the football field while enjoying a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale.
By the time December rolls around it’s time for some serious malt. While watching the game in my favorite birds hoodie, with a cheesesteak in hand, I like a good stout. It’s around this time that most team’s playoff hopes are starting to be defined, and depending on where your squad stacks up, tough decisions need to be made. 12-0 like the Carolina Panthers? Rest easy and enjoy yourself a wonderfully rich, yet well balanced Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. 4-8 like the Detroit Lions? Ease the pain and get after it with a few Founders Breakfast Stouts. Not to worry, Detroit. Unlike your local football team, at least the Michigan beer scene is keeping it real.
In January we’re either cheering our teams on a Super Bowl run or drinking and eating our way through sullen, cold, and defeatist Sundays. Either way, beers are consumed, and I’ve likely have my fair share of Yard’s Love Stout at this point. Once February hits I find myself sufficiently malted out and am ready to ease myself back onto the hop train. A Dogfish India Brown Ale is the perfect way to ease this transition.
Finally we’re left with the Super Bowl. An amalgamation of everything good, evil, exciting, and gluttonous. With all the pizza, wings, and dips we can handle, a sharp ale is needed to cut through the grease. Give me IPAs or give me death. Hopdevil, Union Jack, and Racer 5 are all in the mix.
There you have it. Six months of pigskin and brews. Jubilation and despair. I think I’ll take a scotch.