Super Bowl XLV From a Beer Perspective

Well… it is almost “Super Bowl Sunday” with an expected record television audience of 106 million viewers tuning-in to watch the Steelers and Packers play for the NFL’s biggest prize. 

But before we head to breaking down the game, we have to take a detour around America’s Unofficial Holiday’s other favorite topic, beer.  Good Friend of the site, Bryan Kolesar of, weighs in with some tasty beer selections for this coming Super Bowl Sunday.

This year’s contenders play in States rich in both brewing history and the current craft brewing renaissance.

The Packers play only 120 miles north of sudsy Milwaukee, just a few more miles northeast from Madison’s craft brewing mecca, and in a stadium that pours beer from the highly sought after New Glarus Brewing Company.

In downtown Green Bay, the appropriately named Titletown Brewing Company serves up hearty Wisconsin fare of cheese curds, pan-fried walleye, and half-pound burgers alongside solid brews like Railyard Altbier, Johnny Blood Red Ale, Hopasaurus Rex IPA, and Kurty’s Hop Monster to keep the fans from becoming part of the Frozen Tundra.

While the Packers play geographically in the Midwest, Pittsburgh fans are much more East Coast in their attitude and passionate pursuit of their Steelers. Beer-wise, though, these city-regions are much more similar. Pittsburgh also enjoys a rich history of brewing and has experienced its own revival of good locally-made craft beer over the past twenty years. In and around Pittsburgh, great beer can be found in a former church, at a pub by a creek, in a vacant industrial building on the “other side of the tracks, in the hippest neighborhoods, and in a 150-year old historic former brewery.

With that bit of brief background aside, it’s on to the game and the beer you could be drinking. Following is a guide to help navigate your thirst through the minimum four-hour affair that most Super Bowl games and the parties that you might attend will span. The beer in your glass will largely depend upon your location and your taste for beer.

I’m a beer guy, a craft beer guy at that. So when it comes to non-craft/macro beer I’ll throw some suggestions out there, but I can’t make any promises! My recommendation is to look for the more interesting craft beers and save yourself the mind-numbing regret the next day.

Any of the beers listed in this piece will go well with football snacks like, Kelley’s Buffalo Chicken Dip, but LV or as you know him “NFL Writer Lloyd Vance” will have more on Super Bowl Recipes soon.

Pre-game: There’s no point in embarrassing yourself before the game begins. Therefore, pre-game beers should be relatively lower in alcohol to keep you out of trouble and arguments. Plus, if you are filling out last-minute pools, you’ll need a clear head.

in Green Bay: Pick up a fresh growler of Titletown Brewing’s Canadeo Gold (German-style Kölsch, 4.5% ABV), a low alcohol, mildly fruity beer named after Packer great, Tony Canadeo.

in Pittsburgh: Head to church, Church Brew Works that is, and grab a six-pack of crisp and refreshing Celestial Gold (German-style Pilsner, 4.1% ABV). Say a prayer for your Steelers while you’re there.

in Dallas for the game: Stop near the stadium in Arlington, Texas at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for a great tasting Brewhouse Blonde (German-style Kölsch, 4.7% ABV)

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (craft): This one from Sierra Nevada weighs in a bit heftier than the other pre-game selections here, but with the smooth maltiness of the Glissade (Helles Bock, 6.4% ABV) and the hop flavor undercurrent, it makes for a nice pre-game beer for those looking for just a little something extra to get the party started.

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (macro): Toast the brewing history of Wisconsin with a Miller Lite (American Light Lager, 4.2% ABV). It’s true that it’s less-filling and low in alcohol, but it lacks much in the way of flavor as well—which for many people, is just fine for the entire game.

First Half: The first half is when we all stand the best chance of paying some level of attention to the television, if not for the game, then for the commercials. At this point, you’ll want a beer that tastes great, but not one that is too distracting with complex flavors. Plus, you’ll likely have a menagerie of flavors on your plate of food, so grab a beer with a little alcohol and some solid hop flavor to kick off the game and your team spirit.

in Green Bay: Stop in at Hinterland, a Green Bay brewpub since 1995 and now on the guest list at the White House for the Super Bowl, and grab a pint of the solid malt-driven Pale Ale (American Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV) that delivers a noticeable hit of bitter hops.

in Pittsburgh: Head to the UK-themed Piper’s Pub in the Southside neighborhood for a glass of the wonderfully malty and hoppy Victory HopDevil (American IPA, 6.7% ABV). Victory’s from Eagles country on the other side of the state, but in the world of beer, Steelers fans happily drink it too.

in Dallas for the game: At most better beer bars around the region, you should be able to find a beer from one of Austin’s newer breweries, Live Oak. Try an IPA (American IPA, 6.0% ABV).

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (craft): Brooklyn Brewery has been making the East India Pale Ale (6.9% ABV) for over 15 years and this pleasantly hoppy beer makes it a versatile winner alone or with food.

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (macro): Michelob makes a Pale Ale (5.5% ABV) and a Rye Pale Ale (5.9% ABV) worth seeking out for their pleasant hop bitterness.

Half Time Show: These mid-game displays are barely enjoyable for most people to watch. So, why not take this opportunity to grab a large 750ml bottle of special beer and share it amongst your group? This may be the last time before the game is over that you’ll have a chance to really focus on tasting your beer. If the desserts have been put out by this point, you may want to try a beer that accentuates the possibilities of fruit with beer.

in Green Bay: In Wisconsin, there may be no beer more celebrated for working with fruit than the wonderfully alternating sweet and tart cherry Wisconsin Belgian Red (4.0% ABV). There is over a pound of Door County Cherries in every bottle.

in Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh has several hot dog and beer-themed shops, one of the best known being D’s Six Pax and Dogz and its large beer cave from which to buy take-home beer. Find a bottle of Love Child (Belgian-style Tripel, 10.0% ABV) from northwestern Pennsylvania’s Voodoo Brewery and experience beer aged on tart cherries, raspberries, and passion fruit.

in Dallas for the game: Stop by Central Market, just north of Dallas, and pick up a Belgian beer, heavy on the cherries, like Kasteel Rouge (8.0% ABV).

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (craft): Try finding either Black and Blue (10.00% ABV and fermented with blackberries and blueberries) or Fort (18.0% ABV and brewed with raspberries) from Dogfish Head for a nearly unmatched fruit beer experience.

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (macro): No macro brewer is doing anything with fruit beers nearly as interesting as any of these other brewers just mentioned. However, if you can’t stray from the familiar brewer names, you might try Anheuser-Busch’s Wild Blue Blueberry Lager (8.0%). I can’t vouch for it, but I’ve heard a few people claim that it’s “okay”.

Second Half: At this point, the game is going one of two ways. It’s either competitive and enjoyable to watch or it’s becoming a lopsided blowout. You’re either really into the game or the party is really kicking into high gear and you’re looking to empty the cooler. The average point spread over the last ten Super Bowls has been ten points, with six of them being decided by a touchdown or less. So, you’re likely to be grabbing for another less complex and relatively lower alcohol beer to get you through to the end of the game.

in Green Bay: Sprecher beer is available in 23 states, but you’ll find it no where fresher than in Wisconsin. Try the delightfully rich and roasty Black Bavarian (Black Lager, 5.9% ABV).

in Pittsburgh: Penn Brewery is brewing in high gear again after some ownership shakeups over the past couple of years. Try their slightly sweet, slightly hoppy Penn Dark (Munich Dunkel Lager, 5.0% ABV) which tastes as good as ever.

in Dallas for the game: Shiner Bock, from Spoetzl Brewery in southern Texas, is available and widely recognized both in and out of Texas. Instead, while there, take the opportunity to try a less well-known Shiner 97 (Black Lager, 4.9% ABV).

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (craft): Sam Adams also makes a Black Lager-style beer, conveniently called Black Lager (4.9% ABV). It’s not as rich as the others listed here and is available across most of the U.S.

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (macro): Yuengling may not necessarily like to be  called a macro brewery, but the fact that they make a whole lot of beer available across nearly half the country makes them more macro than micro. But that doesn’t mean that their beers can’t be “craft-like”. Skip their Lager, and try their easy-drinking, but tasty and slightly chocolaty, Porter (4.7% ABV) and see if you agree.

Post-Game: After the game, you’re either getting ready for bed, heading out to drive home from the party, celebrating your team’s big win or soothing the pains from a tough loss. There are many different ways you could go here. Let’s assume that there’s no driving in your future and your team just won. You’re up for one last celebratory beer. You’ve likely drank many beers throughout the course of the night and your palate has taken quite a beating. Here are a few memorable beers to finish off the night.

 in Green Bay: If you head up to Green Bay from the south, be sure to stop around Madison or Milwaukee for four-packs of Ale Asylum’s Mercy (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 9.5% ABV). This beer is packed with tremendous dark fruit flavors and a warming alcohol presence for those cold Green Bay nights.

in Pittsburgh: When in Pittsburgh and celebrating your team’s win, there may be no better place to be than in the Southside neighborhood favorite, Fat Heads, with a bottle of East End Gratitude (American-style Barleywine, 11.5% ABV).

in Dallas for the game: Stop by the Meddlesome Moth in Dallas’ Design District for a regional favorite, Real Ale Sisyphus (American-style Barleywine, 11.0% ABV)

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (craft): Stone Brewing recently blended its Arrogant Bastard, Oak-Aged Bastard, and Double Bastard to create an anniversary beer called Lukcy Basartd [sic] (American Strong Ale, 8.5% ABV). If you can’t find a bottle of this one-time release beer that brings about a mouthful of malt, hops, whiskey, and oak, just reach for any of the three component beers for an equally pleasing experience by themselves.

mostly anywhere in the U.S. (macro): I can’t bring myself to recommend a St. Ides or a Schlitz to you here just for the sake of a one-last end-of-night alcohol punch. Plus, there’s nothing that you could drink in this strong beer category that would go anywhere nearly as well with the possible food pairings that Mary is going to recommend as what I just listed.

 The Brew Lounge’s prediction: I’ve seen games at both Heinz Field and Lambeau Stadium, drank beer in both of their cities, and interacted with both fan bases. While the Pittsburgh fans deserve every one of the well-earned Super Bowl Championships, there may not be a nicer fan base in the world of American professional sports than that of the Green Bay Packers.

 Therefore, while Super Bowl XLV should be an entertaining and competitive game, I’m pulling for the Packers to finally get the Brett Favre monkey off their back.

Wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate, The Brew Lounge wishes you a fun Sunday with friends and family watching the Big Game and enjoying great food and beverage.


Bryan Kolesar is the editor of The Brew Lounge, a website dedicated to bringing tidbits from around the World of Craft Beer


One Response

  1. This is a great list! Being from the Dallas area, but living in Austin now, I think you got most things covered and I’m glad to see a mention of Live Oak brewery. They produce some great beers.

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