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Tough One to Tackle: Picking Super Bowl Beer

January 30, 2002|From The Times Food Staff

There's no longer any question that Super Bowl Sunday has become one of America's most important secular holidays. The only thing that remains to be seen is what will turn out to be the traditional menu for a day spent eating and drinking in front of the television. There is a strong traditional lobby for delivery pizza. But a rapidly coalescing opposition is building around chips.

Whatever food dominates the serving platters and TV trays of America, one thing is certain: Beer will be poured. Let's face it, it's tough to picture armchair fans screaming at refs over a bottle of wine--even a Beaujolais.

That beer is the beverage for the big bowl is obvious. But which beer? We called some of Southern California's leading merchants for recommendations.

Kenny Hollingshead, Hollingshead's Delicatessen: Spaten Pilsner, $9.99 (half-liter six-pack)

"The Spaten brewery in Munich is one of the biggest in Germany. This is a lager-style beer so it's light in taste and light in color, but because it's a Pilsener, it has a little bit of a bite on the finish. Not enough to make it bitter, just enough to make it refreshing. We've sold this brand for about 25 years and this has been the single best-selling line of beer we've ever had. The quality is always top-drawer; we've never gotten a bad beer from them."

368 S. Main St., Orange; (714) 978-9467.

Duane Riddell, Beverages & More: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale, $3.49 (18.8-ounce bottle)

"It has a lot of flavor and character, it's very malty. It's a wonderful beer. It's English. I like to take it on vacation with me. When I drive up to San Francisco, I like to have it when I get to my hotel room. It's my reward. Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale is my second choice. It has a very nutty flavor to it--it's a little sweeter--and the nut is like hazelnut, not peanut. It has a very sweet finish to the beer." (Nut Brown Ale, $8.99 for a four-pack.)

875 E. Birch St., Brea, (714) 990-2060; also locations in Irvine, Orange, Encinitas and the San Diego area.

Robert Johnson, Brewer's Rendezvous: Bavik Pils, $4.99 (six-pack)

"This is a great beer and new to America; we just started getting shipments right after Christmas, and it's one of our bestsellers. It's a Pilsener-style beer made in Belgium, but it's very un-Belgian. It's absolutely crisp, clean and very refreshing. It's light-bodied. I hate to make the comparison, but it's along the same line as Budweiser, but with more substance."

11116 Downey Ave., Downey; (562) 923-6292.

Michael Cristillo, Bristol Farms: Stone Indian Pale Ale, $3.49 (22-ounce bottle)

"I like Stone Brewing Co. out of San Diego. They've put together ales and lagers. Some are done in a Belgian style, some in an Indian Pale Ale. I think they're some of the best beers made in the United States. They're very unique, have great flavors and just terrific consistency. They're not that well-known and a bit unique."

Various locations.

Josh Hooper, Hi-Time Wine Cellars: Kona Brewing Co. Lager and Pale Ale, $6.99 (six-pack)

"These beers from a Hawaiian brewery are really easy drinking. They've got a lot of good flavor, but they're not too heavy--just what you want for sitting around and watching the Super Bowl. The lager has a little fruitiness, but not heavy sweet fruit. It's not too bitter; it's not heavily hopped. The ale is also lightly hopped, unlike most California pales. Both of these beers are really smooth and go down really easy."

250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa; (800) 331-3005.

Ron Breitstein, Duke of Bourbon: Hopf Helle Weisse Bier, $2.25 (17-ounce bottle)

"This is one of the tastier beers I've had, though it's not necessarily the cheapest. It's a great, classic wheat beer. It's got a really bright, vibrant fruit character. It's very refreshing."

20908 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park; (818) 341-1234.

John Hanssen, Morry's of Naples: Blanche de Chambly, $9.95 (750-milliliter bottle)

"It's a Belgian beer. It's a real light style, very creamy. It's a really easy-drinking, smooth beer. It's one of my favorites--I'm turning all my friends on to it right now. It also comes in a 5-liter keg, which is kind of fun for a party." (Keg, $19.95)

5764 E. 2nd St., Long Beach; (562) 433-0405.

Regan Ditta, Red Carpet Wine: Victory Brewing Co. Hop Devil Ale, $10.99 (six-pack)

"Victory Brewing is a company out of Pennsylvania. Hop Devil is an India Pale Ale--it's a big old, high-alcohol beer with lots of flavor, seven different kinds of hops. They also recently put out a barley wine-style beer called Old Horizontal."

400 E. Glendale Blvd., Glendale; (818) 247-5544.

Sam Samaniego, The Stuffed Sandwich: Hog Heaven Barley Wine, $4.95 (22-ounce bottle)

"They make this one a little different from most barley wines, but they make it tasty. It's got a lot of flavor, lots of hops and herbs. And because barley wines are so high in alcohol, it's also very sneaky. For a barley wine that's not a pure barley wine, it's a superior product."

413 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel; (626) 576-9554.

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