Here are five beers sold nationwide that represent a healthy mix of light/dark, can/bottle, domestic/foreign, and familiar/obscure. And yes, they all work with pizza.
NEGRA MODELO, MEXICO
($9 per six-pack) 5.4 percent ABV
Corona may be the best-selling nondomestic beer in the USA, but Negra Modelo, first brewed by Austrians in Mexico in 1926, is a better choice if you're thinking about food pairings. With its copper color, Negra pours darker than most lagers. It is sweet, with hints of nuttiness on the nose, and has a refreshingly potent carbonation. A hoppy bitter finish adds complexity. Lime wedge optional. Cold Recipe Pairing: Guacamole Taquero The beer's caramelized malty sweetness cuts through this dish's tart tomatillos, creamy avocado, and spicy chiles. Hot Recipe Pairing:Turkey Nachos Negra is strong enough to stand up to the jalepeño sour cream but doesn't overwhelm the lime-tossed turkey or bell peppers.
Image Courtesy Negra Modela
SAM ADAMS LIGHT, UNITED STATES
($9 per six-pack) 4.3 percent ABV
Unlike many other flavorless and appallingly watery light beers, Sam Adams Light shows real depth: toasty/bready aromas, gentle spiciness, and even a hint of tropical fruit. With only a slight trace of bitterness, this is a malty, crisp beer that goes down smooth. As an alternative to Bud, Miller, and Coors, Sam Adams Light is perfect for fans of mindless chugging and ideal for folks who are watching their weight. Note, however, that with 124 calories per 12-ounce bottle, this isn't exactly a 55-calorie beer. Cold Recipe Pairing:Chile-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail Sweet, malty characteristics of this Sam Adams contrast nicely with the grilled shrimp and its corresponding chile kick, while the smooth creaminess of the beer mirrors that of the avocado. Hot Recipe Pairing:Bratwurst in Beer It's a classic tailgate/grilling pairing. Cook the mild-flavored sausage in Sam Adams to bring out perfectly complementary flavors.
Image Courtesy Sam Adams
DALE'S PALE ALE, UNITED STATES
($9 per six-pack) 6.5 percent ABV
Thanks to Oskar Blues Brewery, fans of hops, IPAs, and canned beers have had Dale's to rave about since its debut in 2002 when the company launched its canned beer business. With its hazy orange coloring, citrus flavors, and notes of pepper and pine, the stuff certainly stands out in a crowd (it's won numerous awards). And because it is the Super Bowl, there's the inevitable horseplay—"catch this!" and "toss me one!" come to mind—making these cans perfect for the day's event. Not only do cans protect beer from light and oxygen better than most bottles, they're easily transported (lighter and more compact than bottles), and don't shatter when dropped. No fumbling here. Cold Recipe Pairing:Muffuletta The bitter hops cut right through the salami and mortadella, while the caramel maltiness serves as the perfect contrast to the salty capers and olives. Hot Recipe Pairing:Garlic-Roasted Potato Skins Dale's citrus and pine notes balance out the potato skins' highly aromatic butter and garlic flavors.
Image Courtesy Dale's Pale Ale
GUINNESS EXTRA STOUT, IRELAND
($10 per six-pack) 5.0 percent ABV
Contrary to popular myth, Guinness is not necessarily stronger in flavor than other beers, nor is it more alcoholic. Thus, it is a perfectly acceptable brew for Super Bowl Sunday, especially when paired with dishes that use stout in the recipe—of which there are many. The Extra Stout pours an oily black and boasts a combination of dry, smoky/toasted, and bitter flavors (some enthusiasts also detect hints of coffee and chocolate), and is known for its thick, creamy head. Fans in Ireland, where Guinness was born more than 200 years ago, have traditionally consumed it alongside either a ploighman's lunch (think cheese, pickles, and bread) or heartier roasts and beefs stews. Cold Recipe Pairing:Spiced-Up Grilled Cheese The toasted malt flavors of Guinness have long been matched with hard-to-pair sharp Cheddars, but the stout will also stand up to the chipotle chiles and molasses in the recipe Hot Recipe Pairing:Chili con Carne The beer brings out the smoky flavors in the chili, and you can even use Guinness as the "one bottle of dark beer" in the recipe.
Image Courtesy Guinness Extra Stout
HITACHINO NEST WHITE ALE, JAPAN
($14 per 24-ounce bottle) 5.0 percent ABV
It sounds like a gamble to serve something as odd as Japan's Hitachino Nest White Ale at a Super Bowl party. But with hints of orange peel, coriander, nutmeg, and clove, this Belgian-style wheat beer has turned out to be a major hit in the U.S., and appears on beer lists at all kinds of restaurants. Kiuchi Brewery, established in 1823, only started offering Hitachino Nest in America in 2000, but the recipe likely borrows from the medieval times, when beers were brewed with spices and herbs instead of hops. Cold Recipe Pairing:Ginger-Garlic Hummus Only a beer with spice, fruit, and herbs like Hitachino's can draw out the ginger and star anise while allowing the hummus to take center stage. Hot Recipe Pairing:Sweet Chili-Glazed Chicken Wings Though chicken normally begs for a lager or Pilsner, these wings need the beer's juicy spiciness to tame the peanut oil, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and crushed red peppers.
Image Courtesy Hitachino Nest White Ale
BACK TO SLIDE
By James Oliver Cury
Super Bowl Sunday is a great day for beer drinkers. There's no denying that the grub's tasty: There's food you can throw on the grill (sausage, burgers), gnaw on mindlessly (sandwiches, wings), dip into (salsa, guacamole), or make in big batches (ribs, chili). But let's face it: If ever there was a day when suds are sacred, it's game day, and nothing's bigger than Super Bowl Sunday. Beer—more than the athleticism or camaraderie—may be the true draw for family and friends, but that doesn't mean it's the time to host elaborate brew tastings or introduce your chums to that strawberry lambic beer you're currently obsessed with.
As with football itself, there are some unwritten rules—or there were, until now. First, aim to please a crowd, so stick to familiar flavors. That means nothing overly sweet or sour. Second, serve brews that will complement, not overwhelm, your dishes. Third, since the game lasts many hours, pace the food and the boozing. Avoid high-alcohol beers—you don't want the lightweights to fall asleep...or worse. And finally, offer some sort of variety so there's something for everyone.
Check out the slideshow above for the best beers to pair with classic Super Bowl dishes.
Want more on the Super Bowl? Check out 3 Bite Mini Burgers from our friends at Style Me Pretty.