For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a Chicago Bears fan. That also means I’m a Chicago beer fan. I have a mild superstition about drinking a local beer from the team I’m rooting for when watching a game. So, for ten days straight, starting with the weekend of the Bears’ January 16 NFC Divisional matchup with the Seahawks, and throughout the week into their NFC Championship game against the Packers, I drank nothing but Chicago’s Goose Island. But my beer superstition couldn’t overcome Jay Cutler’s poor first half performance, or cure his torn MCL. Backup QB Todd Collins looked like he’d had about 10 beers before the game as he tried, but failed, to throw 2 interceptions before being pulled toward the end of the 3rd quarter. And though I tried to rally backup backup QB Caleb Hanie by drinking more, his furious 4th quarter 2 touchdown effort fell just short.
So now the Packers head to the Super Bowl and I’m left to feature a beer from Wisconsin. Though I’m no fan of Wisconsin sports teams, I have nothing against their beer, and there’s no lack of craft breweries to choose from. However, until last week I’d never had a beer from there. I follow Lakefront Brewery on Twitter but never tried anything of theirs. But based on the recommendation of a diehard Packers fan, Wisconsin native, who is a friend of my fiance from their college days at Notre Dame, I decided to give it a try.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
As luck would have it, I was actually able to procure a a Lakefront IPA — the only beer from Lakefront — at my corner beer store. If you’ve read my Beer Tour features before, you know I’m a big fan of the IPA. I love hops. The hoppier the better. Lakefront’s is nearly the epitome of an IPA — citrusy, flowery, mildly bitter. It’s very smooth, and a very good introduction if you are new to IPAs.
From the Lakefront website:
… well balanced with a full body and smooth malty flavor to back up the hops. It finishes smooth and crisp with a lingering hop flavor reminiscent of fresh ruby red grapefruit.
To pair with your Super Bowl snacks, Lakefront says that it “goes well with any spicy food, historically Indian food as well as Thai, Cajun, or Mexican. Try our IPA with Buffalo wings, blackened chicken or pepperoni pizza. Beef dishes or fried seafood can stand up to the hops as well. ”
A few interesting tidbits about the history of the brewery:
Lakefront Brewery was the first beer company to bottle fruit beer since prohibition, starting in 1992 with their seasonal Lakefront Cherry Beer.
They were the first certified organic beer to be labeled in the U.S. starting in 1996 with their Lakefront Organic E.S.B. (extra special bitter). The ale is brewed using 100% organic malt and hops.
In 2006 the brothers changed the government’s policy definition of beer, which stated all beer had to be made with 25% malted barley. The company, aware that people with celiac disease are intolerant to wheat, wanted to create a gluten-free beer. They approached the government and got the policy changed so that they could sell and market their gluten-free beer, New Grist.
First brewery in the state and the first business in the City of Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification. Travel Green Wisconsin recognizes tourism-related businesses that are reducing their environmental impact through operational and other improvements.
Also recommended by beer-loving friends: Leinenkugel’s (“Leinie’s”) of Chippewa Falls. If you insist on a Green Bay beer, you can join our Washington pols: Hinterland Brewing Company‘s Pale Ale, Luna Ale and Luna Coffee Stout will be served at the White House tomorrow.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Pennsylvania Brewing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)
I have plenty of experience with Pennsylvania beers. When in college in Philly I the only beer I would drink was Yuengling Lager (Pottsville, PA). I’m a big fan of most Victory (Downington, PA) brews, though I did feature them already in my Beer Drinker’s Guide to the MLB Postseason. I love Stoudts Pale Ale (Adamstown, PA) and Troegs Java Head Stout (Harrisburg, PA) is out of this world.
But for this feature, I really wanted a Pittsburgh beer and I simply could not find one at my local beer stores. So, naturally, I turned to Twitter. And I got recommendations for both Pennsylvania Brewing Company and East End Brewing Company. Unfortunately I have not tried beers from either, but if I do get to Pittsburgh I certainly will. Or, perhaps the breweries can send me a sample?
I’m typically not a big fan of Pilsners as I tend to prefer bolder hop flavor, but for this event, I think it’s a perfect choice. Penn Pils is the flagship brew of Penn Brewing Co., and since you’re going to be stuffing yourself during the Super Bowl with wings, pizza, nachos and more heavy food, you might not want anything that will fill you up. Since I don’t have personal experience with this brew, I typically turn to a few reviews to highlight what you should expect.
Via Brian’s Belly:
The beer is somewhat dry on the palate and the hop flavor is assertively pungent and spicy with a bit of a peppery sensation. As I swallow, I get a nice hop bitterness, though without the depth or long-lasting sensation that you’d get on classic Czech pilsners. The brewery claims to use only Hallertau hops in this beer… It is a very good, if not especially aggressive a pale lager. This beer should appeal to the kinds of beer drinkers who like Dominion Lager or Sam Adams Lager, but who don’t quite feel ready to make the leap to bolder, more assertive beer styles.
Via Beer Advocate:
muskiecf: It’s a traditional German recipe that’s dead on for the style according to the homebrewing bible- Brewing the Classic Styles. extremely smooth and slightly sweet with a dry finish. Low carbonation makes them easy to drink and adds smoothness… This is what Pennsylvania German craft beer is all about my friends. Thanks to Tom Pastorius for bringing traditonal German craft beer back to Pittsburgh.
MirkoCroCough: Tastes like a pilsner with a clean hop crispness and a nice flowery aftertaste with some grassy notes with some pilsner malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is drying and thin just how a pils should be. Very drinkable.
Penn Brewery also has an interesting history. Founder Tom Pastorious was brewing Penn Pils out of third-party facilities for the first three years after founding in 1986, but soon decided that he needed his own brewery:
Pastorius also recognized the demand for authentic German cuisine in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spawning the idea of a “tied-house”, or brewery and restaurant under one roof, similar to the many beer halls he experienced while living in Germany for twelve years. Prior to 1987, however, Pennsylvania law prohibited such a facility. Pastorius responded by successfully lobbying Pennsylvania legislators to change state law… On September 12, 1989, the Allegheny Brewpub (later renamed Penn Brewery) opened its doors, with dignitaries including Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff and Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey tapping the first keg.[Wikipedia]
If you’re still not convinced, well, Penn Brewery seems to be pretty committed to the Steelers, as evidenced by this video on their website: