Let’s get one thing straight: the day after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. The parties… the food… the beer.. and most of all, the memories are what makes the Super Bowl one of my favorite Sundays of the year.
Memories of the Super Bowl are always bittersweet for those of us here in Buffalo. This is the silver anniversary of the actual silver anniversary Super Bowl where the Bills lost to the Giants. Super Bowl 25 happened 25 years ago. Most Western New Yorkers can remember exactly where we were when “wide right” happened.
Myself, I was a freshman during my undergraduate education at Cornell University. I recall being clad head-to-toe in Bills gear: socks, T-shirts (plural), scarf, shorts, a sweatshirt and who knows what other good luck trinkets I had in my pockets. I proudly represented my team in the Dickson Hall television room on North Campus. Dickson Hall was a monster-sized residence hall, and had only two TV rooms– one of each side– of the first floor of the five story building. These two TVs attempted to satisfy the viewing needs of some 500 student rooms. For the Super Bowl, students from New York City (known as “The City” to them) mingled in that television room at about a 50/50 ratio with students from Western and Central New York students. I was there, in the front, having secured my seat hours earlier.
When the kick went wide right, I remember thinking, “Wait, they can redo the kick, right? Where’s the penalty flag?”
My memories of the silver anniversary Super Bowl are prideful but sad. I represented my team. I took the beating from my NYC Cornellians. And 25 years later, I’m left wondering when the hell the Bills will ever make it to the Super Bowl again.
And on this Super Bowl occasion, I thought it would be nice to start a new tradition. This year, I matched three beers from Carolina against three beers from Colorado. I attempted to match these beers by style as much as possible: a “sour” beer, an IPA and a stout. I voted for which beer I liked best of the two, and that state gained a “point”. The winner would be the state that won the majority of the head-to-head tastings.
Here are the beers that were used in my Super Bowl paired tasting:
Match-up #1: Sierra Nevada Otra Vez vs. Crooked Stave Surette Provision Saison
CAR: Sierra Nevada Otra Vez (Gose – 4.5%): Sierra Nevada, originally from California, also has a brewery in Fletcher, NC. This “gose” beer blends prickly pear cactus with grapefruit and seeks to be a satisfying summer quaff. This beer poured a a clear straw color and showed plenty of carbonation. The aroma of this beer was like a saltwater breeze on the beach. The taste was salty and the mouthfeel light-bodied. There wasn’t very much complexity to this beer for me, but the beer was very drinkable.
COL: Cooked Stave Surette Provision Saison (Saison/Farmhouse Ale – 6.2%): In a contrast to Otra Vez, Surette poured a cloudy and hazy golden color. This beer had quite a bit more complexity in many ways. The grain bill contains barley, wheat, oats, rye and spelt. This complex malt base meshed well with the intricate saison character of this beer. Surette is more sour and farmhouse-like than Otra Vez, presumable due to the presence of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus species in the oak barrels that aged it.
Although the high drinkability of Otra Vez made this decision difficult, in the end I found Surette a more interesting beer.
The winner of this match-up was: Crooked Stave Surette Provision Saison. Carolina – 0, Colorado – 1.
Match-up #2: Westbrook One Claw vs. Avery India Pale Ale
CAR: Westbrook One Claw (American Pale Ale – 6%): This rye pale ale made with rye malt. One Claw poured a very turbid and hazy yellow. A few chunks of floating sediment were present at the bottom of the glass after the pour. One Claw contained a more head retention than Avery IPA on the initial pour, but after a few minutes they both settled out evenly. The aroma of One Claw was citrus and a bit pine, and the taste is bitter but doesn’t linger. Very clean tasting despite appearing very turbid.
COL: Avery India Pale Ale (American IPA – 6.5%): Avery IPA poured much more clear than One Claw. And aroma of Avery IPA was predominantly citrus with plenty of hop aroma. The taste was pleasant and also filled with citrus flavors. Avery IPA was not overly bitter and the hops were well-balanced with the malts used.
These beers are each very good, and the decision came down to an opaque and enticing rye flavor versus a very clean and delightful hop bouquet.
The winner of this battle was: Avery India Pale Ale. Carolina – 0, Colorado – 2
Match-up #3: Oskar Blues Ted Fidy vs. Great Divide Yeti
CAR: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (Russian Imperial Stout – 10.5%): Oskar Blues, originally based in Colorado, now also has a brewery in Brevard, North Carolina. And Brevard is where the can of Ten Fidy used in this tasting came from, so I’m assigning this beer to the Carolina faction. Ten Fidy is a dark and rich stout and smells of chocolate and roasted malt. There are plenty of hops in this beer buried underneath the dark malts.
COL: Great Divide Yeti (Russian Imperial Stout – 9.5%): This knuckledragger-iconed beer doesn’t look much different than it’s competition when poured into a glass, but it did carry a much different aroma. Yeti exuded much more poignant roasted notes and Ten Fidy carried much more rich chocolate notes. The taste is also very sharp-hopped and bitter.
Both of these Russian Imperial Stouts are quite potent. Wow. Ten Fidy is a bit deeper in flavor and Yeti is more bitter.
The winner of this battle was: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Carolina – 1, Colorado – 2
With a 2-1 margin of victory, the winner of this Super Beer showdown is Colorado.