13 Super Bowl Beer Picks From Local Beer Experts

The arrival of Super Bowl XLIX this Sunday guarantees, at the very least, three occurrences: a hard-hitting game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, a heartstring-yanking Budweiser commercial confirmed to reconnect last year’s “Puppy Love” crew of mammals and my annual viewing of “In Living Color’s” game-changing live episode that originally aired opposite of Super Bowl XXVI’s halftime show in 1992.

My cursory exploration of the third: The decision by FOX to battle head-to-head with the Super Bowl’s halftime extravaganza may seem (foot)ballsy and foolish now, but at the time, America’s definitive pop-music stage was more of an amateurish, state fair-style spectacle displayed best (or worst) by the well-oiled, magenta suspenders-wearing bodybuilders flexing among a tapdancing Goofy and an elephant-riding monkey. Seriously.

Another example of the top-grade entertainment one could previously expect was 1992’s “Winter Magic” celebration, which delivered a two-song set by Gloria Estefan and a figure skating performance by Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill. FOX rightfully capitalized on this fumble with an uncensored and unsurprisingly controversial assault from Keenen Ivory Wayans’s crew; and it was a wild success, capturing over 20 million viewers from CBS and forcing the Super Bowl’s no-joke recruitment of Michael Jackson to perform the following year. We can credit “In Living Color’s” chutzpa with effectively ending the goofyness and birthing the modern-day halftime show: the Nipplegated, Beyoncé-jiggling shindig we happily watch with the expectation of seeing larger-than-life and potentially disastrous moments. Farewell, Up With People and Elvis Presto!

My favorite part of the excellent “In Living Color” episode is a “Men On Football” sketch with Blaine Edwards (Damon Wayans) and Antoine Merriweather (David Allen Grier) offering their opinions on football “from a male point of view.” At one point during the six-minute skit, Merriweather says “nothing beats that requisite moment of tension right before the play begin, as the muscular, sweaty, football mens get down on their line of scrimmage. There they is, eyeball to eyeball, they breaths comin’ out just like steam from a big bull’s nostrils. I just got three words to describe it: De! Li! Cous!

While I don’t disagree with his sultry statement, another source of deliciousness during one’s viewing of football should always derive from beer — and especially if properly planned. Us drinkers are presented with a dizzying amount of options to glug during game day. To help us sort through the options, we recruited some of our favorite craft-beer folks across New York City provide their Super Bowl selections. What do you plan on drinking?

Harpoon Brewery Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 6.9%
Find this at: Carmine Street Beers, 52A Carmine St., West Village, 212.633.2337; $11.99 for six-pack of 12-ounce bottles

If you’re a Patriots fan looking for a beer that represents the team you’re cheering for, perhaps this hoppy offering from New England’s second-largest brewery can carry you to victory. The rye imparts a spicy aroma and flavor offset by a generous addition of Chinook and Centennial hops. The dry-hopping of this concoction — named for the co-founders of the brewery — adds a burst of citrus on the front and a pleasant dry, bitter finish. Best of all, if the Patsies lose, the 6.9 percent ABV will insulate you from the mockery of Seahawks fans… or more likely, Giants fans who crushed your dreams twice before.
Chris O’Leary, editor of Brew York

Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
Find this at: C-Town Supermarket, 40-12 28th Ave., Astoria, 718.278.3000; $11.99 for six-pack of 12-ounce bottles

Us beer folk have a certain loyalty; we like to keep it local. But it can’t always be that way. While New York City’s breweries are cranking out a few good lagers here and there, we as consumers are spoiled by having the best in the world on our doorstep. For the Superbowl, Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils from Paso Robles, California occupies that spot. Yes, it’s part of the West Coast tradition of hoppy beers. But as a lager, Pivo Pils is a hybrid of European pilsner beer styles, only dry-hopped with German Saphir hops to lend a powerful bouquet of spice, flowers, and tangerine. The beer finishes with a clean crispness and despite the hops, not too much bitterness; it is absolutely still a light lager. A balanced easy-drinking beer, it is a great addition to any Superbowl beverage lineup that will please ordinary citizens and provide enough character to keep craft drinkers happy. And at 5.3 percent alcohol, it won’t deflate your desire for another. Given all the bad beer commercials we’ll be watching, something tasty to sip on might be more important than we think.
—Brendan Woodcock, Certified Cicerone

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (#1), Full Sail’s Session Black Lager (#2)
Style: IPA, Dunkel/Tmavý
ABV: 6.7%, 5.4%
Find #1 at: St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe, 533 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, 347.763.2261; $2.79 for 12-ounce bottle.
Find #2 at: Cortelyou Craft Beer, 1211 Cortelyou Rd., Ditmas Park, 718.284.4446; $15.00 for 12-pack of 12-ounce bottles.

Kelly grew up in Washington and has been a lifelong Seahawks fan. For reference, that’s a bit like being a lifelong Jets fan in terms of heartbreak and frustration. Even though I suspect he’ll be too engrossed in the game to notice much, we’ll be proudly serving two offerings from the great Pacific Northwest. The first is Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA. It’s all there in the name. A nice citrusy hop nose nicely balanced by a rich malt bill. Goes down really easily, especially for 6.7% ABV. To balance out that selection, we’ll also offer Full Sail’s Session Black Lager. Malty with just a hint of coffee and chocolate notes, it’s a great choice for those not wanting hops on a cold winter’s night.
—Sonya Giacobbe and Kelly Taylor, owners of KelSo Beer Company

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BrewDog Punk IPA
Style: IPA
ABV: 5.6%
Find this beer at: Astoria Bier & Cheese, 34-14 Broadway, Astoria, 718.545.5588; $3.99 for 12-ounce bottle

Super Bowl parties are about loud and room-bisecting conversations, halftime show snark-fests, mindblowing end-zone receptions, and, between plays, seemingly endless amounts of Clydesdale horses selling beer and Rocky Mountains getting tapped. It’s an honorary American holiday. So call us subversive for recommending a beer from a place where the word football as we know it must be preceded by the word American to be understood. Punk IPA, by way of BrewDog out of Scotland, is dry and intensely hoppy and aromatic. Overflowing with citrus and tropical fruit, it’ll keep refreshing your palate as you munch your way through four quarters of indulgent — and most likely inadvisable — eating choices. Extra bonus: We’re debuting a collaboration Punk IPA Beer Making Kit with BrewDog due out mid-February so you can actually brew up a batch at home for your next beer-centric sporting event.
—Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, owners of Brooklyn Brew Shop

Element Lunar Eclipse
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 8.2%
Find this at: Carmine Street Beers, 52A Carmine St., West Village, 212.633.2337; $15.99 for 750-ounce bottle.

Of course I’m picking a Massachusetts beer for THIS Super Bowl! The Patriots have gone 10 years without a big-game win, and in that time many great new breweries in MA have opened. Out of those, Element is one of my favorites, and one we always stock at Jimmy’s. The brewery’s Lunar Eclipse is dark,  hoppy, and malty — perfect for a winter evening in MA… or NYC, watching the Super Bowl on the television. Let it warm up in your glass, wear your Bill Belichick-style cutoff hoodies and root for New England!
Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 and founder of the Good Beer Seal

Brooklyn Brewery 1/2 Ale
Style: Saison
ABV: 3.4%
Find this at: Nolita Mart & Espresso Bar, 156 Mott St., Little Italy, 212.966.8883; $11.99 for six-pack of 12-ounce bottles.

As far as local beers are concerned, I have been really digging the Brooklyn 1/2 Ale when I want to drink more than I should — and the Super Bowl seems like a perfect arena for that. A full-flavored farmhouse ale, at 3.4 percent ABV I can pound them all night and still feel fine the next day. It’s sort of a miniature version of Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace, although I feel that the lower alcohol allows the yeast funk to dominate more.
—John Lapolla, co-owner of Bitters & Esters

Freigeist Geisterzug Quince Gose
Style: Gose
ABV: 5.2%
Find this at: Bed Stuy Beer Works, 409 Willoughby Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant, 718.797.1465; $8.99 for 16-ounce bottle

For Super Bowl Sunday, I’m making a Philippine dish called sisig. Its a marinated, braised, then chopped-and-pan-crisped pork belly. It has fatty exuberance from the pork belly, fruitiness from a pineapple juice braise, along with brightness from fresh herbs, and orange zest stirred in at the end. I’m planning on pairing this with a neat gose from Germany fermented with quince. The beer is low enough in alcohol to allow you to make it to overtime (if necessary); it has a light acidity to cut through the richness of the pork belly, and has a background of salinity to match the intensity of Southeast Asian comfort food and notable balanced fruit and spice flavors to mimic those in the dish.
—Anthony Accardi, co-owner of Transmitter Brewing

Victory Brewing Anniversary 19 Session IPA
Style: IPA
ABV: 4.5%
Find this at: Hops & Hocks, 2 Morgan Ave., Bushwick, 718.456.4677; $2.50 for 12-ounce bottle

Since I despise both the Seahawks and Patriots, I’d probably be best-served buying a couple four-packs of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale tall boys and getting blotto before halftime. But having a hangover Monday morning sucks, so I’ll spend the eve with a few sixers of the just-released session IPA, Victory Brewing’s Anniversary 19.
—Joshua M. Bernstein, author of  The Complete Beer Course

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Harpoon Brewery IPA (#1), Leviathan IPA (#2)
Style: IPA, Imperial IPA
ABV: 5.9%, 10.0%
Find #1 at: Beer Closet, 5-37 51st Ave., Long Island City, 718.937.2337; $1.90 for a 12-ounce can
Find #2 at: Rattle N Hum, 14 East 33rd St., Midtown East, 212.481.1586; $9.00 for a 12-ounce draft.

The food spread at my house during the game usually leans on the spicier side, so I’ll have plenty of IPA on hand. Tropical-fruit forward with just a hint of caramel malt sweetness and body, the Leviathan imperial IPA is a personal favorite and one that I’ll likely end the night with. For the game itself, I’ll go with the traditional Harpoon IPA, one that I just rediscovered and enjoy for its balance between pine and citrus aromas and flavors. Harpoon IPA is like an old friend, the kind who you just don’t spend enough time with, but enjoy the moments when you’re together. My choice of a New England-brewed beer is not, by any way, shape, or form, an endorsement of the Patriots.
—John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine and author of the American Craft Beer Cookbook

Threes Brewing Vliet Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.1%
Find this at: Threes Brewing, 333 Douglass St., Gowanus, 718.522.2110; $7.00 for a 22-ounce draft

I hate to promote our own beer — well, not really — but I will: I’ll be enjoying Threes’ new Vliet Pils during the Super Bowl this year. That and Miller High Life. I love pilsners — everyone should. From our brewery’s conception we knew we were going to brew a pilsner and now two months after we got brewing ours is ready. Vliet has beautiful herbal and bright floral hop aromatics. It was brewed to be savored and crushed, depending on the occasion. Although seemingly on the opposite end of the spectrum to some of the Brett beers we are brewing, I think they mutually inform each other.
—Greg Doroski, brewmaster of Threes Brewing

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Find this at: Top Hops Beer Shop, 94 Orchard St., Lower East Side, 212.254.4677; $1.99 for 12-ounce can

The Superbowl: a time when conviviality and degustation are of more interest to me than the event itself. Quantity and quality can indeed collide, and this is the ideal time for it! My choice for this time is the classic, the foundation upon which our beautiful industry has been built, the grandaddy of ’em all: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale! Specifically in cans! The benefits of cans are a bonus here. The beer itself — different from the draft, and I would contest from the bottle, as well — is a modern marvel, an ode to the vivacious American Northwest hop characteristics that have come to define so many of the qualities we look for in our hop-driven beers. Can-conditioning such a relatively straightforward style of beer is no easy undertaking, and one that Sierra Nevada has spent much time and money perfecting. Not to mention that the ubiquity of such a stellar product means that freshness and availability are at their peak. Perfectly balanced, infinitely sessionable and crazy affordable, one can’t go wrong with a cooler full of Sierra Pale Ale cans.
—Cory Bonfiglio, general manager of Proletariat and Beer Street

Evil Twin Molotov Lite
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Find this at: Murray’s Cheese Shop, 254 Bleecker St., West Village, 212.243.3289; $2.99 for a 16-ounce can

If I had even a smidgen of interest in watching the entire Super Bowl, I’d make a sane choice and stick with something sessionable like Carton’s Boat Beer or Stillwater’s Classique. Instead, since my intention is to nod off before… the halftime show, I’m going with Evil Twin’s Molotov Lite imperial IPA. First of all, it comes in a can, the only appropriate vessel to drink beer out of while watching football (other than maybe a giant Styrofoam Dart cup). Second, it’s a “lite” beer so I won’t feel all hoity-toity drinking it around all of my Bud Light-loving bros. And third, much like the bodies and minds of the players, who will unabashedly be bruised and pummeled into early dementia right there in glorious HD, this beer will hammer at my taste buds, light up my bloodstream, and slowly, steadily knead my mind into mush.
—Justin Kennedy, producer of Beer Sessions Radio

Dogfish Head Piercing Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 6.0%
Find this at: Noble Grains NYC, 313 East 95th St., Yorkville, 212.996.2337; $3.29 for a 12-ounce bottle

For as long as I can remember, Super Bowl Sunday has been a cherished occasion to gather with family and friends to indulge in snacks of scant nutritional value: layered bean dips, fiery chicken wings, cheesy nachos, pigs-in-blankets. One of my favorite winter releases, Dogfish Head’s Piercing Pilsner, provides the perfect counterpoint to the annual blitz of decadent delights, cutting through fatty and spicy dishes alike. Czech Saaz hops and prickly carbonation scrub the palate of fried foods and savory sauces, while the complex citrus notes of white pear juice, pear tea and Amarillo hops tackle piquant fare. At an approachable 6.0 percent ABV, this Perry-Pils hybrid is what I’ll be reaching for on game day.
—Brian Winget, beer manager of Barcade (Chelsea)

Photo credit: Flickr/Nurse Kate