Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Brewsday - Super Bowl Beers (not Bud, Miller, or Coors!)

The Super Bowl is considered by many to be a de-facto holiday in American culture. Each year on this special Sunday we gather our favorite snacks, rally our closest friends, dawn our team's colors, and cheer and holler at the TV together for one last time for a team we usually despise. More often than not, accompanying your snacks in each of your close friend's hands is a beer. Many people try, but Super Bowl Sunday is generally not a day for umbrella-laden cocktails or one to be uncorking and decanting bottles of wine. No, no. On this day; and virtually ever other day a sporting event falls on, save for the Kentucky Derby; beer is the celebrated beverage of choice. (Really though, a mint julep?)

This year instead of picking up a 36'er of bland Bud Light or even a six-pack of Corona with lime, how about you truly support your temporary team and pick a beer from their home state or even better, if you can find it, a beer from their home city.

Unlike last year's limited beer options with New Orleans and Indianapolis, the cities of Green Bay and Pittsburgh actually have decent brewing cultures themselves. If you go and include the rest of their states, one couldn't have picked two better teams to represent the brewing world.

Since the Green Bay Packers are this year's home team, and seemingly home to most of America's brewing history, we'll begin there along with the rest of the Badger State.

Green Bay is home to two breweries, Titletown Brewing and Hinterland Brewing. Neither brewery bottles but both have tasting rooms if you find yourself in Northern Wisconsin on February 6th. The next smallest brewery of note in the Cheese State is the makers of one of the best framboises (Raspberry Tart) you'll find anywhere, the New Glarus Brewing Company from New Glarus, Wisconsin. Their Spotted Cow farmhouse ale is also a great brew that we recommend. New Glarus bottles and distributes regionally, this would be the first Wisconsin brew you might be able to find.

Before heading back up to the northwoods we'll venture into big city of Milwaukee to sample some of their hand-crafted suds. If you're looking for a traditionally brewed beer look no further than the Sprecher Brewing Company located on Milwaukee's north-side. Try their Black Bavarian, one of the best schwarzbiers made this side of Atlantic. You may be able to pin down some bottles of Sprecher, they only come in 16 ounce pint bottles.
Sprecher's Black Bavarian
Appropriately sandwiched between Brewer's Hill to its north and Schlitz Park to its south, Lakefront Brewery has been creating quality craft beers since 1987. Pick up their Eastside Dark Lager or one of their 'Pure Milwaukee Genius Series' like their bike-themed Fixed Gear American Red Ale. They are one of the more available craft brews from Wisconsin.

The most accessible of all craft beers from America's Dairyland is that of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company from Chippewa Falls in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Best known for their Sunset Wheat Belgian Witbier and their Classic Amber, Leinenkugel's are one of the readily available craft beers nationwide. This is thanks to their being majority owned by Miller Brewing Company since the late 80's. While under Miller's control they have maintained the integrity of Jacob Leinenkugel's original hand-crafted brews and family members still head the company today.


Green Bay, Wisconsin
Titletown Brewing - In-house and guest tapped at select locations

Hinterland Brewing Company - In-house taps only

New Glarus, Wisconsin 
New Glarus Brewing Company - Bottle and distribute regionally

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sprecher Brewery - Bottle and distribute to several states

Lakefront Brewing - Bottle and distribute to several states

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing - Bottle and distribute nationally

If the American Football Conference and the Pittsburgh Steelers are more your speed, then you should check out the breweries that the Steel City has produced. In addition, the state of Pennsylvania is home to one of America's oldest continually operating breweries. Let's take a deeper look at what the Keystone State has to offer Steeler fans in the ways of the fermented beverage.

Pittsburgh is home to three breweries; two with in-house taps only and one  that bottles. The smallest of Pittsburgh's operating breweries is the East End Brewing Company located appropriately on Pittsburgh's east-side. Also located on Pitt's east-side just north of Polish Hill is the Church Brew Works, a brewery located in the restored St. John the Baptist Church. Neither East End nor Church Brew Works have their beer available in bottle so you must be in the Greater Pittsburgh area to enjoy these local wares.  

Church Brew Works with brewing equipment in the former chapel.
The only Pittsburgh brewery that bottles is the Pennsylvania Brewing Company which has been brewing beer since 1987 on a site that once held the Eberhardt and Ober Brewery established in 1848. Located not even two miles away from Heinz Field, Penn Brewery produces a Marzen-style beer that beer critic Michael Jackson called, "one my Top 24 American beers." This would be the only Pittsburgh brewery you may be able to locate. The Iron City Brewing Company was formerly located in Pittsburgh and still lists it as their location but they've moved to the old Latrobe Brewery that once produced Rolling Rock before that was bought out and bottled by Anheuser-Busch.

Pennsylvania's largest city, Philadelphia, is home to the Yards Brewing Company which have their own family of wonderful craft brews. In 2003 they teamed up with the historic City Tavern to brew the 'Ales of the Revolution'. Beer inspired by the brewing recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. We suggest trying Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale, superb.

Located an hour west of Philadelphia is Downingtown, Pennsylvania where the Victory Brewing Company calls home. Founded in 1996, Victory is one of the premier craft breweries in the nation. Their HopDevil IPA is uncharacteristically hoppy for an East Coast beer. They achieve this by using whole cone American hops. Few brewers use whole cones because they loose their oils and resins quickly after harvest. Those oils and resins impart bitterness to the beer and balance the sweetness from the malt. To insure quality whole cone hops, brewers must use them soon after harvest. (Hops are generally pressed into pellets that look like rabbit food to retain their desired properties.)  

Pennsylvania is also home to America's oldest operating brewery in the sleepy town, Pottsville, PA. Once a boom town as the 'gateway to Anthracite Coal Region' during the early 1800's, Pottsville drove many immigrants to it who were searching for a new beginning. One of those was a German immigrant named David Gottlob J√ľngling who anglicized his last name to Yuengling and opened his Eagle Brewery in 1829. In 1873 they changed it's named to D.G. Yuengling & Son, as it has been ever since. Dick Yuengling, fifth generation brewer, still brews beer there to this day; over 180 years later. Yuengling Lager is one of the premier lagers in the World. Their Porter and Black & Tan are also highly enjoyable beers.

Play video for a short Yuengling history from ABC News


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
East End Brewing Company - In-house taps and at select locations

Church Brew Works - In-house taps and at select locations

Pennsylvania Brewing Company - Bottles and distributes to several states

Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Iron City Brewing Company - Bottles and distributes to several states

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Yards Brewing Company - Bottles and distributes regionally

Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Victory Brewing Company - Bottles and distributes to 29 states

Pottsville, Pennsylvania
D.G. Yuengling & Son - Bottles and distributes to most of the East Coast

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