The eyes of football fanatics will turn east this weekend, as the National Football League's Super Bowl championship is played in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. Under the guidance of veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos enter the game as favourites over the strong defensive core of the Seattle Seahawks.
OK, so that's pretty much the extent of my NFL knowledge right there.
But I like snacks, drinks and a good TV spectacle as much as the next guy (or girl), so chances are good that I'll be planted on a couch in front of the tube, drink in hand and football food at the ready.
What I won't do, however, is drink watery beer made by companies who would rather invest heavily in clever, expensive 30-second Super Bowl ads than in better-quality products. With the increasingly diverse selection of lagers and ales in our province, the Super Bowl is the perfect opportunity to experiment with beer-and-food pairings.
How easy is choosing new brews for the big game? I picked the following random brews (and one bubbly) from shelves across town and found they'd easily pair up with football food.
And if none of these sound up your alley, I'm sure your own mix-and-match adventures will be a home run... er, touchdown...
Adnams Gunhill Full Flavoured Beer (Suffolk, England -- $3.79/500ml bottle, Liquor Marts)
A dark ruby ale, the Gunhill is deep copper in colour, with a slightly off-white head. Dried apricot and prune notes on the nose make way for secondary toasted malt and nut notes as well as a hint of raisin. There's a hint of sweetness on the palate here that accentuates those dried fruit notes, and the caramel/toasted nut component is pleasant. Try the Gunhill with sausage rolls, milder meatballs or roasted peanuts. 2.5/5
Unibroue Raftman (Chambly, Que. -- $5.70/750ml, Liquor Marts and select beer vendors)
Pale copper in colour with a vibrant white head, the Raftman is a sur lie beer, meaning it's aged in contact with the lees, or dead yeast cells -- relax, it's done in the wine world too. As a result, there's a doughy, yeast-y aspect to the aromatics as well as peppy lemon rind, vanilla and banana notes. It's creamy but effervescent, with plenty of yeasty flavours as well as black pepper, vanilla and creamy malt notes. Tip this tasty brew back with a fruit platter, a shrimp ring or some pretzels. 3.5/5
Flying Monkeys Netherworld Cascadian Dark Ale (Barrie, Ont. -- $2.93/355ml bottle -- Liquor Marts)
Dubbed as existing somewhere between a black IPA and a porter style, the Netherworld is pale brown in colour, with a beige head and loads of toasted nut, toffee, caramel, mocha and raisin aromas. It's dry but fairly rich on the palate, with that mocha/toffee note jumping out front and a supporting cast of white pepper, toasted malt and balanced hops. This is your beer for ribs or wings. 3.5/5
Rogue Yellow Snow IPA (Newport, Ore. -- $8.25/650ml bottle, Liquor Marts)
Pale gold in colour with a white head, this India Pale Ale ramps up the grapefruit, herbal and milder pine aromas. It's crisp and slightly bitter, with a hint of sweetness to the peppery spice, herbal and grassy flavours on the full-bodied palate. At a teeth-rattling 82 IBU, the Yellow Snow brings lean, mean hops, and at 6.5 per cent alcohol by volume also has some kick. Try this intense beer with spicy wings, nachos or jalape±o poppers. 4/5
La Boufonne Strong Blonde Beer (Raimbeaucourt, Belgium -- $5.31/330ml bottle, Liquor Marts)
Sure, the Yellow Snow IPA calls itself a strong beer, but La Boufonne weighs in at nine per cent alcohol -- potent, to say the least. Pale gold in colour and with a big, frothy white head, there's fairly delicate toasted malt, raspberry, floral and faint creamed corn notes on the nose. While crisp and light-bodied, the higher alcohol certainly shows itself more on the palate, while orange peel/creamsicle flavours are interesting with the maltier note. Try with chips or quesadilla with a fruit salsa. 3/5
Sette Ventiquattro NV Prosecco (around $15, private wine stores)
If your team wins the big game, this is a good option for celebratory bubbly that doesn't break the bank. Very pale straw in colour, the Ventiquattro brings red apple skin, mineral, candied peach, as well as milder citrus notes on the nose. Crisp, almost off-dry, and with plenty of peach, lemon and red apple skin on the palate and light acidity. A decent Prosecco for the price, try your sparkling wine with fresh fruit/veggie platters, popcorn or chips. (Seriously: bubbly and chips or popcorn is a killer combo.) 3/5