Try these super craft beers for Super Bowl game day

 

Associated Press

The Super Bowl is all about the spectacle. Whether it’s the food, the commercials, the halftime show, the game itself, it’s got to be big and brash.

Which is why you have no excuse for drinking some watered-down, mass-market beer this year. We live in an age of seemingly limitless craft beer choices, making it easy to find truly fine brews worthy of drinking during Sunday’s showdown between Seattle and Denver. And for inspiration, you need look no further than the teams’ home states.

Watching from Miami? You can even look a little closer to home, thanks to Florida’s growing craft beer landscape.

WASHINGTON

While Seattle is more famous for coffee than beer, Washington is home to about 160 craft breweries, and its Yakima Valley is a major growing region for hops used in beers all over the world.

Seahawks territory is home to Elysian Brewing Co., whose lineup features Immortal IPA and Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout.

The brewery, founded in 1995, says its India pale ale is a classic take on the classic English-style brew, amped up with Northwest hop aroma and flavor. Fresh-roasted beans from Seattle’s Stumptown Coffee give Elysian’s Split Shot notes of dark chocolate and a caffeine jolt that will keep you on the edge of your seat during the game.

Seattle’s The Pike Brewing Co., located near the famous Pike Place Public Market, features Pike Pale Ale, a medium-bodied beer with a crisp, citrus flavor balanced with hints of caramel from its malted barley. Its Scotch ale, Pike Kilt Lifter, has sweetness from the toasted malt with a hint of smokiness.

The city’s Fremont area is home to artists, tech geeks and plenty of beer lovers. Fremont Brewing Co. plays on the area’s self-proclamation as the “Center of the Universe” with its flagship beer, Universale Pale Ale. Local Northwest hops give the American pale ale a bitter, citrusy, spicy flavor.

COLORADO

Legalized marijuana may be making headlines in Colorado these days, but the state has long been a craft brew haven. Colorado is home to more than 150 craft breweries, many based in the Broncos’ hometown of Denver.

About three miles from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Great Divide Brewing Co. has been serving craft beer fans a wide variety of brews since 1994.

Its Lasso IPA offers drinkers a “sessionable” beer — meaning one that is low enough in alcohol that they can drink several of in one sitting (like, say, the Super Bowl) without fatiguing their palates or livers. Despite its lower alcohol content (5 percent alcohol by volume), the beer still features the crisp, refreshing and citrus flavors one would expect from an India pale ale.

For a somewhat different beer to sip during the big game, try Great Divide Old Ruffian (packing a heftier 10.2 percent ABV), a barleywine that combines a huge sweet, toffee malt backbone with citrus hop flavors.

Bronco country also is home to New Belgium Brewing Co. with its flagship Fat Tire, an amber ale balanced with toasted malts and a hint of bitter hops. New Belgium also released a new year-round beer just in time for the Super Bowl called Snapshot Wheat, an unfiltered wheat beer with a citrus aroma and a slightly tart finish.

Think canned beer is cheap swill? Think again. In 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery in nearby Lyons, Colo., became a craft beer pioneer by putting its beers in cans, which are better than bottles at keeping beer safe from light and oxygen.

Oskar Blues’ Deviant Dale’s, an imperial IPA, comes in 16-ounce tallboy cans and packs a punch of hops that taste like grapefruit rind and pine resin. For something with less hop flavor, Oskar Blues offers cans of Old Chub, a Scottish strong ale that evokes flavors of cocoa, coffee and smoke.

Other Colorado breweries worth checking out: Left Hand Brewing Co., Odell Brewing Co., Ska Brewing Co. and Avery Brewing Co.

NEW JERSEY

The Super Bowl is being played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and that’s a fine excuse to sample some of the local brews.

The oldest of New Jersey’s several dozen craft breweries is Flying Fish Brewing Co. in Somerdale, which opened in 1996.

The brewery’s lineup includes its Hopfish IPA, which balances bitter hops with a malt sweetness and a citrus finish. Flying Fish also offers Exit 16, an imperial IPA brewed with five kinds of hops as well as wild rice, which leads to a dry finish. Exit 16 also happens to be the off-ramp for MetLife Stadium.

Also be on the lookout for New Jersey Beer Co., as well as brews from Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint Brewery in nearby New York City.

FLORIDA

In the land of subtropical sun, craft beer has long taken a back seat to vodka cocktails and well-chilled white wine. But that’s rapidly changing, from Miami to Jacksonville, as local craft breweries are attracting loyal followings.

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Co. has gained a national reputation on the strength of its Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, a high-octane beer made with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs that has earned cult status among beer geeks. In the mood for something a little more approachable? Check out Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA, a juicy, citrusy brew available in cans and on draft throughout South Florida.

Due South Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach recently started selling cans of its Category 3 IPA, which was the first beer that future Due South brewmaster Mike Halker submitted in a homebrew competition. It won. Bonus: Cat 3 is an easy pairing with a Super Bowl cheese plate or a big bowl of chili.

Located in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, the new Wynwood Brewing Co. is riding high from the recent success of South Florida Craft Beer Week, where it unveiled several unique, limited-release one-off brews.

Its staples include the easy-drinking La Rubia, a blond ale that tastes light on the palate with a clean, refreshing finish. It’s a brew you could quaff from kickoff to final whistle.

Miami Herald staff writer Evan S. Benn contributed to this report.

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