Living in New Orleans this time of year is always troublesome... and I mean that in the best way possible. January and February in this town means Mardi Gras time (king cakes and parades and balls), the beginning of crawfish season (etouffees and weekly boils), and in general, a near-constant celebration... until Ash Wednesday has even the most temperate Catholic among us accepting that ashen cross on their forehead in gluttonous shame. The resulting hangovers and bloated evenings are often commonplace for this eventful pair of weekends leading up to Fat Tuesday. But this year... there is another.
Yes, Super Bowl 47 has added yet a third week of debauchery to this Carnival season.
Not that I'm complaining. Now we have parades on either side of the Big Game, and this extra week of tourism will bring a ton of money and publicity to our fair city. You can also be sure that, over the next few days, there will be much rational, respectful discussion between the opposing fans as to which team will prevail. In the meantime, I've chosen a different debate: Which city has the better beer? This is a serious, important question... one that I'm sure will have East Coast vs. West Coast implications as large as Biggie vs. Tupac. In order to answer this query, I am presenting a handful of each town's best players (aka, brews) and will let you, the discerning beer (and/or football) fan decide for yourself.
Here are just a few of the stars:
- The crafty veteran: Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA
He may not be the best QB (I mean, IPA) in the league... except in his own eyes... but he's been on this team since the beginning and knows how to get the job done.
- The hometown hero: Brewer's Art Resurrection
Born and bred in downtown Baltimore, this player will always be a fan favorite. He may not be as well known to outsiders, but in Charm City, he is a total rock star.
- The entertainer: Oliver Breweries Hot Monkey Love
This old (ale) receiver seems to reinvent himself every season (barrel-aged, wild yeast, hilarious labeling, etc) but always delivers a show that will keep the crowd begging for more.
- The heavy hitter: DuClaw Retribution
This is the big body (~11% abv) in the trenches that every team needs. If you're not prepared, this stout defender will knock you off your feet!
- The rookie of the year: Union Balt Altbier
The new kid on the block has definitely impressed coaches throughout the league (winning a gold medal at GABF) and is poised to be one of the leaders on the Baltimore beer team for years to come.
San Francisco Lineup
- The ancient one: Anchor Steam
Seems like this elder statesman has been part of the game forever, but he's not going anywhere. Maybe not as innovative as he used to be, as the younger kids have passed him by, but you can always turn to him for a solid performance.
- The pro-bowler: 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA
A relatively young back at the top of his game, this player will impress you with his smoothness on the field (and on your palate). Maybe seen as a little unconventional at first (being sold in cans) but has quickly established himself as a perennial winner.
- The stalwart lineman: Speakeasy Prohibition Ale
He may not get as many accolades as his teammates, but he's been around for a while, and is still as solid as ever. Loyal fans will tell you there's not much better in the league.
- The local favorite: Magnolia Proving Ground IPA
Not well known beyond the Bay Area, visiting teams always remember his name and will let you know... this is the one to look out for when you're in town.
- The future Hall of Famer: Russian River Supplication
Forgive me for pulling this guy in from out of town, but he's too good to pass up. Living in the shadow of his more famous brothers (the Pliny twins) may have turned him a bit sour, but he's every bit as talented.
And there you have it... some of the top performers from each city. Who do you think will win when these bad boys go head-to-frothy-head? Are there any players I might have missed that you think will have more of an impact? And why do I keep using football metaphors when the article's pretty much over?
These, and other questions, will be answered on Sunday right here in the Big Easy (and in beer bars, brew pubs and Super Bowl parties across the country). So... who you got?