Super Bowl Sunday, the most American of all sports extravaganzas, is the country's second biggest day of food consumption after Thanksgiving. Practically a national holiday, it is the most watched U.S. television broadcast of the year. An event marked by its millions of dollars worth of beer commercials, not only is Super Bowl Sunday the greatest sports day in the U.S., but it's also the country’s most popular day to drink beer, with imbibers downing more than 325 million gallons on that day alone.
Super Bowl 50 features teams from two of the most crafty of craft beer cultures in the United States.
This year, more than any other year in recent history, Super Bowl 50 features teams from, arguably, two of the United States' most crafty of craft beer cultures: Colorado and North Carolina. It’s a well known fact that Denver is hallowed ground for craft beer enthusiasts, some considering it and Colorado the country's craft brewing epicenter from which all spokes extend. But recently, North Carolina, yes, North Carolina has stepped up as one of the most promising craft beer brewing states in the nation, the city of Asheville leading the charge, with Charlotte not far behind. Regardless which team you're rooting for on Sunday—if your team wins, loses, or if you don't actually care at all—below are nine great craft beers fit for Super Bowl imbibing.
Craft beers for panther fans
Lazy Bird Brown
Birdsong Brewing Co., Charlotte, NC
Newly located in the NoDa (North Davidson) arts district of Charlotte, Birdsong Brewing Co. is known for its flavorful, unfiltered beers. Lazy Bird Brown ale is a quintessential American brown ale in the sense that it pours a deep mahogany. But, the beer is actually quite light in body, with roasty, slightly smoky aromatics, and citrus on the nose from the large amount of lemony Cascade aroma hops. Nicely balanced just in-between malty and hoppy and relatively mild at 5.5 percent ABV, drinking Birdsong’s darkest beer is a great way to bring out your inner panther.
Hop Drop 'N Roll
NoDa Brewing Company, Charlotte, NC
In the same neighborhood (just a five minute drive north of Birdsong Brewing) is the aptly named NoDa Brewing Company. Its 2014 World Beer Cup-winning golden hued Hop Drop ’N Roll American-style IPA put this 15-barrel small-batch brewery on the map. The flagship ale starts with in-your-face hops, citrusy and piney from the additions of tropical Citra and fruity Amarillo before, during, and after brewing. This 7.2 percent ABV IPA also calls for wheat malt, which adds a slightly creamy mouthfeel.
Pre-Game Session Ale
The Unknown Brewing Co., Charlotte, NC
Just three blocks south of Bank of America Stadium, where, incidentally, the Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals for their first NFC championship victory in twelve years, lives The Unknown Brewing Co. Its inauspicious name masks some truly exceptional beers. Unknown's 4.25 percent ABV American pale ale is on the lighter side of the pale ale spectrum, with notes of citrus and a nice dry finish.
craft beers for broncos fans
Denver Pale Ale
Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO
No Denver list could be complete without mentioning Great Divide. While the brewery might be more known for its powerful and dark Russian imperial stouts, its overshadowed Denver Pale Ale (DPA for short), an English-style pale ale, has become one of the most award-winning English-style pale ales (including the coveted Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival) in the country. Pouring a sparkling copper, this 5.4 percent ABV DPA is smooth, mildly floral, with subtle herbaceous and fruity notes which are balanced by a big hop slap in the finish.
Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
American Porters are a bit of a mystery. Some are easily big enough to be considered a stout, while others hover around brown ale status. But this 5.1 percent ABV English-style porter is painstakingly modeled after classic London porters. Which means this beer is robust and smooth, and uses dark roasted malts to add a deep color and impart toasty notes of chocolate with hints of coffee. And while the name might suggest the Broncos playing style this year, Cutthroat Porter is actually named after Colorado’s dark-colored endangered state fish.
Lips of Faith - Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale
New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Also hailing from just North of Denver is famed brewery New Belgium Brewing Company. While their portfolio has many greats from which to choose, try to find Le Terroir 2015 from NB’s Lips of Faith series. Usually reserved for wine, "terroir" is a French term meaning of the earth and applies to all the environmental conditions that can affect the final flavor of, in this case, beer. This wild fermented 7.5 percent ABV sour beer is aged for three years in foeders, or upright wooden barrel-shaped vats, and then dry-hopped with Amarillo hops, creating a peachy, earthy, puckery, dry and delicious beer.
if you can't decide or don't care
Oskar Blues IPA
Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO and Brevard, NC
For those who enjoy the Super Bowl but don't like to take sides with their beer, here’s the answer. Oskar Blues Brewing Co. was originally brewed in Lyon, CO and moved to Longmont, just north of Denver because of capacity issues. Then, in 2012, Oskar Blues did the almost unthinkable for a craft brewery, and built itself an east coast brewery in the town of Brevard, NC, just outside of Asheville and about two ours due west of Charlotte. So, Oskar Blues' IPA is basically Switzerland as it applies to Super Bowl loyalties. This delicious and juicy 6.43 percent ABV IPA has tropical fruity wafts of passion fruit and pineapple, and finishes nice and clean.
Incidentally, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has also built a second brewery in Asheville and New Belgium has one slated to be operational by late summer 2016.
IF your team loses
The Abyss - 2015 Reserve
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
When the face paint is still on but one’s team didn’t end up on top, some fans’ hearts will sink to a level they didn’t know existed. What that person should reach for right now in the deep and dark is The Abyss, the 11 percent ABV dark black Russian imperial stout from Deschutes Brewery. This stout has a cult following. Aged in French oak pinot noir and bourbon barrels for months, this beer has immense depth and complex flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and dark cherry, with notes of molasses and licorice.
IF your team wins
Brauerei Aying, Aying, Germany
Bock beers are German lagers traditionally brewed as beers of celebration. They were originally meant to be consumed after toasts of gratitude and in anticipation of better days to come. Dopplebocks or "double" bocks are even stronger bock beers. These lagers are deliciously powerful, with dark fruit, roasted chocolate qualities, a lush sweetness, and a heat in the finish. Celebrator Doppelbock is considered by many craft beer experts to be one of the best examples in the world. Dark and rich, with complex fruitiness and smokey malt, this 6.7 percent ABV brew is full-bodied and finishes semi-dry like coffee.