For the past two decades, the average length of Super Bowl broadcasts has crept up to the four-hour mark. Hell, that’s longer than the Oscars and the Golden Globes. But let’s be honest, done right, the Super Bowl is an all-day affair. And the best way to subdue your itinerary of salted snacks and succulent spreads? Beer, of course.
By far, lagers and ales are our libation of choice on America’s most celebrated, unofficial holiday. We reportedly consume 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, the equivalent of a six-pack for every adult over the legal drinking age. But partying with abandon doesn’t mean you have to settle for insipid, mass-produced swill. Pass the time viewing Clydesdales and Go Daddy commercials (and, you know, the occasional punt return) with a cold can of sessionable suds brimming with herbaceous hops, layers of malt, and plenty of unfiltered goodness.
Here, we’ve put together a mixed six-pack from some of our favorite New England breweries—along with a few comparable alternatives—for your Super Bowl bash. Warning for the wise: Hide this curated menagerie in the back of the fridge, or suffer the cruel (and inevitable) switcheroo.
1. Allagash Saison
Alcohol by Volume: 6.1%
It’s American craft meets Belgian farmhouse tradition in Allagash’s newest year-round offering. Brewed with a malted rye blend, as well as Tettnang, Bravo, and Cascade hops, this saison drinks something like a sessionable Belgian IPA. Juicy notes of cut grass, lemon, and grapefruit rind mingle with more classic aromas of banana, clove, and earth from the saison yeast strain used in fermentation. Take advantage of those pungent West Coast hops by pairing this beer with tangy Buffalo wings or nachos loaded with pickled jalapenos. As a general rule, hops are a great equalizer for pepper and spice.
Alternative: Rising Tide Spinnaker Hefeweizen
2. Brewmaster Jack Total Eclipse
Alcohol by Volume: 6%
Oh, you thought game day was only about light, quenchable lagers? Wrong. Especially if you’re going to be eating something hearty like Texas chili, brisket, or a slab of ribs. Tame that smokey barbecue spread with a dry stout or porter like Brewmaster Jack’s Total Eclipse, which uses rye and German Carafa malt for an intense backbone and aromas of pumpernickel, dark chocolate, coffee, and cocoa nibs. Using a technique mostly seen in milk stouts, brewmaster Tyler Guilmette finishes each batch by adding a dosage of lactose sugar for a rounded, creamy mouthfeel that makes for easy-drinking, whether tailgating midday or celebrating with a nightcap.
Alternative: Smuttynose Robust Porter
3. Two Roads Workers Comp Saison
Alcohol by Volume: 4.8%
Yes, two saisons made the cut. But that’s because brewmaster Phil Markowski’s farmhouse ale is a fry cry from Allagash’s latest. Brewed with four different grains (oats, wheat, rye, and barley), as well as a yeast strain that contributes an array of tropical fruit notes, Workers Comp leans less on tannin and spice, and more on sweeter aromatics. Expect refreshing notes of peach, mango, banana, and white pepper, as well as a lean body for quaffable game day drinking. Two Roads’ saison is a no-brainer with anything fried and fatty, but is particularly suited for a bowl of guac and a platter of old school crispy tacos.
Alternative: Notch Saison
4. Night Shift Morph IPA
Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%
Night Shift’s Morph is one of the more interesting concepts going on in craft beer today: an ever-rotating, small batch series that’s being used as a crowdsourcing tool toward building a flagship IPA. Head brewer Rob Burns says the most recent batch is as close as they’ve come to perfection with “a simple, soft grain bill and loads of juicy American hops layered on top.” Using Falconer’s Flight hops, as well as the experimental HBC-342 variety, Morph has intense notes of melon, tangerine, and pine. It’s the perfect partner for cheesy potato skins or any sandwich with fatty cuts of salami, mortadella, or country ham. And at 5.9% ABV, it won’t lull you to sleep midway through Katy Perry’s halftime theatrics. On second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Alternative: Night Shift Whirlpool
5. Jack’s Abby House Lager
Alcohol by Volume: 5.4 %
Okay, I’m cheating a little. Jack’s Abby’s new easy-drinking House Lager might come in a slightly bulkier 16.9oz. bottle, but it’s so worth testing the elasticity of your six-pack holder. Inspired by the winter landbiers of Franconia, founder Jack Hendler uses all German malts—including a special heritage barley breed—as well as traditional German Hallertau and Tettnang hops, for a biscuity, nuanced lager with aromas of pear, caramel apple, and hay. Keep this handy for when you’re grilling up brats or pair it with a pepperoni pizza. The bad news? Jack’s Abby only made a small amount on their 80BBL pilot batch system. The good news? Hendler is about to scale-up in a big way and make this the official “house beer” of their new brewery in Framingham.
Alternative: Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau Session Lager
6. Newburyport Plum Island Belgian White
Alcohol by Volume: 5.4%
Inspired by craft beer pioneer Pierre Celis and his eponymous Belgian wit, Newburyport brewmaster Mike Robinson began brewing this crisp, cloudy style as far back as 1997 on the small homebrewing setup in his garage. When Newburyport Brewing founders Chris Webb and Bill Fisher handpicked Robinson to head up their 8,300 square foot brick and mortar brewery in 2012, Plum Island Belgian White was the first thing they honed in on out of hundreds of recipes. And for good reason. Using a traditional Belgian mash, coriander, and hints of orange peel, this effervescent brew has notes of citrus, clove, and freshly popped popcorn. You might want to keep a whole cooler of this on hand for appetizers like garlicky hummus, chips, and French onion dip.
Alternative: Allagash White
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