We’ve given a lot of Super Bowl party tips over the years — have a big TV, serve food and beer, that sort of thing — but we’ve never done a local-beverage-focused Super Bowl party guide.
That’s an idea I wanted to save for when my beloved Detroit Lions make the big game. Alas, after a less-than-promising 3-12-1 season in 2019, I’ve realized that if I wait that long there probably won’t be a local craft beverage industry anymore. There probably won’t be a local anything; the heat death of the universe will occur before the Lions make the Super Bowl. So here we are, with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs facing off on Sunday, and I figure it’s as good a year as any.
Here it is then, the official SCENE guide to drinking locally during Super Bowl LIV.
As long as there’s been football, people have been drinking beer while they watch it. Its place atop the football beverage hierarchy is unimpeachable. But what kind of beer do you need for your Super Bowl party, here in Yakima in 2020?
Well, you need a couple of kinds. First, you need something light and easy, a “session” beer, that you can keep drinking for the entire game (including the extra-long pregame show, the extra-long halftime show and the extra-long postgame show). This is a little tricky, since most local beer is hoppy and high-alcohol. But you still have plenty of options. Hop Capital Brewing (formerly Yakima Craft) has a very nice 4.9 percent ABV pilsner called Pilsnerd that won’t knock you over with one can, and its Una Mas lager is just 4.4 ABV but still beats most of the big boys in its class on flavor. Or you can stop by Wandering Hop Brewery for a couple of 32-ounce crowlers of the Haasmanian Devil IPA, which clocks in at a very reasonable 5.0 ABV and has more hop flavor than a beer with those numbers has any right to.
My current favorite low-alcohol local beer, though, is Single Hill Brewing’s Work Beer, a 4.5 percent ABV pilsner that you can get in crowlers or growlers. And while you’re there picking it up (sadly, it’s not in stores), you can check the ever-changing beer lineup to see if there’s something else that might pique your interest.
You’ll also probably want some more robust beers for your more robust guests. Lord knows, if you have a die-hard fan of one of the teams at your house, that person is going to want to either celebrate or drown their sorrows at the end. You’ll need a strong beer for that. A few favorites include Bale Breaker Brewing Co.’s gallon-of-beer-in-a-12-ounce-can double IPA, Bottomcutter. It’s hugely flavorful and surprisingly drinkable at 8.2 percent ABV. Plus it’s widely available on store shelves. Any IPA from Varietal Beer Co. in Sunnyside is also highly recommended for these purposes, as are any of the bigger, hoppier numbers from Valley Brewing.
But I’m probably going with Bale Breaker’s new Desert Bite IPA for my own needs. It’s 7.1 percent ABV, which is more than enough. But it’s not the hop monster that Bottomcutter is. It’s balanced and nuanced. And no one needs balance and nuance more than someone at a Super Bowl party.
Nothing like kicking back in front of the big game and crackin’ open a couple of bottles of wine. Uh. Well, anyway, not everyone likes beer. It’s nice to have some wine on hand, if for no other reason than it’s fun to pair good wine with Super Bowl-type foods.
Did you know, for instance, that a good albariño is perfect with Buffalo wings? It’s true. The high-acid levels give it a crispness, a refreshing quality that counters the spice. It’s like the wine version of a stick of celery. Except, unlike celery, it tastes good and I want to consume it. There are plenty of whites that can give you that kind of balance. Owen Roe’s The Parting Glass Viognier, for instance, would work nicely and won’t break the bank. Ditto for Côte Bonneville’s riesling. But I’m sticking with albariño, specifically the albariño from Naches Heights Vineyard.
If you’re serving something richer and more substantial at your party — say barbecue or carne asada — you’re going to want a richer, more substantial wine. Also, you have to have something red; both teams in this Super Bowl wear red, so it’s thematically appropriate. You can go with any of this area’s wonderful merlots or cabernet sauvignons or with one of the red blends from Gilbert Cellars. Personally, I’m going with the zinfandel from Thurston Wolfe. It’s light-bodied enough that it can go with barbecue but full-flavored enough that it can go with beef.
Finally, you’re going to need bubbles. And in this town, that means Treveri Cellars. (I wake up every morning grateful that we have a wholly affordable, world-class sparkling wine producer in this Valley.) Lately I’ve been way into the Treveri Blanc de Blancs Brut Zero. It’s bone dry and as crisp as Joe Theismann’s fibula.
Generally, I don’t recommend cocktails for football games. It’s not that spirits and football can’t work together; it’s that I don’t want to be away from the TV, mixing drinks the whole time. The exception is the pre-batched mixed drink. And it just so happens that one of my own creations, the Autumn in Yakima, works perfectly as a pitcher drink. Here’s the recipe for a big batch: 1 pint bourbon, 2 pints fresh (local if possible) apple cider, 1 pint ginger beer, 6 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice.
A couple of notes on that recipe: Feel free to make it even more local by using Swede Hill Distillery whiskey; and feel free to make it more family and driver-friendly by omitting the whiskey altogether for a booze-free punch.
And there you have it, your guide to drinking locally for the Super Bowl. Or, as we Lions fans call it, “your guide to getting through the day.”