I was lying in bed last Saturday night trying to fall asleep and basking in the glow of a near perfect performance by the Crimson Tide in their victory over San Jose State when it occurred to me that this week’s column should focus on the combination of great beer and our state’s official pastime.
College football has long been associated with standard American lagers in the minds of most fans. There’s nothing wrong with that, but of course this column is about going deeper into the world of beer. I would like to offer a mostly whimsical list of beers I’d suggest pair well with each game on the Tide’s schedule this year. Sorry, Tiger fans. Note that I will focus on beers available in Birmingham as much as possible, but sometimes you have to travel to find that perfect beer.
First up, something to enjoy tonight or tomorrow in celebration of the crushing of a cupcake.
We so thoroughly annihilated San Jose, the beer that seems best suited to the occasion is Stone Ruination Ale. Ruination is a double IPA that will destroy your taste buds just as we destroyed the carefully chosen sacrificial lamb last week. You’ll have to go to Georgia to find this one, as Stone isn’t distributing to Alabama yet. I had one earlier this week while visiting family in Georgia, and was reminded of just what an incredible masterpiece Ruination really is.
This Saturday will see us pitted against one of the more formidable opponents we’ll face this year, Penn State. Go with something from a Pennsylvania brewery that does send beer here, Erie Brewing. The best pun would be in Fallenbock, a dopplebock to celebrate a soon-to-be fallen opponent. But that’s a winter seasonal not available yet, so maybe opt instead for Misery Bay IPA.
Next week it’s Duke’s turn. Nothing would be more appropriate than Hogwash, the hickory smoked porter from brand new brewery Fullsteam, located in Duke’s home of Durham, North Carolina. I feel a unique kinship with Fullsteam (who just opened for business a few weeks ago) because it’s the baby of Sean Wilson, founder of Pop The Cap. That’s the grassroots group that changed North Carolina’s 6% ABV law a few years ago. Sean gave me a lot of guidance when I was getting Free The Hops off the ground. Fullsteam is only available in North Carolina for now, but the game is in Durham so all you folks who travel for games are in luck.
On September 25th, we fight Arkansas. This one’s easy: Naked Pig Pale Ale from Back Forty. Made by local guys who will have a new brewery in operation in Gadsden by the end of the year. While they may be a worthy opponent, I think the Razorbacks are going to end up Naked against the Tide and the leadership of the Nicktator.
October 2nd puts us up against the evil Florida Gators, sans Tim Tebow. I watched their performance against Miami (OH) and they are going to have to make big changes to be competitive against Bama. Bring some Andygator, a strong helles bock from Abita.
On October 9, The South Carolina Gamecocks should be Up The Creek. Drink a beer from their home state to toast their honor in defeat: Up The Creek Extreme IPA by Thomas Creek out of Columbia, South Carolina.
The 16th of October brings the Ole Miss Rebels to Tuscaloosa. This is the easiest pick of the schedule; go for Mississippi’s own Lazy Magnolia Reb Ale, an American pale wheat that occupies pale ale territory.
Then comes the voodoo of LSU. The Tigers are looking stronger than most gave them credit for during preseason. They did beat a higher ranked opponent in their opener. I expect a tough game, which should be enjoyed with a bottle of New Orleans-brewed Dixie Blackened Voodoo, a black lager.
November 13th sees the arrival of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa for a good old fashioned ass whoopin’. There’s still only one brewery in Mississippi, Lazy Magnolia, so I’m throwing another one of their beers in this lineup: Southern Pecan. It’s an easy drinking brown ale well-suited to SEC football.
On November 18th we should easily dispose of Georgia State. Pair this victory with something from GSU’s hometown of Atlanta, Redbrick Pale Ale.
And finally, the last regular game of the season is the always-dramatic Iron Bowl. I gave a lot of thought to what would be the perfect beer for such a celebrated event. I finally decided on the ideal brew: Nemesis, brewed by Founders. Via Wikipedia:
In Greek mythology, Nemesis...was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods).
“Nemesis” is now often used as a term to describe one’s worst enemy, normally someone or something that is the exact opposite of oneself but is also somehow similar.
Could any beer possibly be better suited to watching the Iron Bowl? It’s a very limited release and it may be tough to find any, but if there’s still some to be had, you’ll have to pick it up in Atlanta.
By all means, enjoy your classic American lagers with football this year. But if you’re looking for a little adventure, look back at this column and consider throwing some new stuff in your rotation.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.