10 Beers We're Cracking For NFL Opening Weekend
Session-friendly craft brews you can actually find!
This is the first edition of Weekend Drinking Assignment, a new feature where we suggest a delicious selection of libations for your weekend enjoyment.
Who’s excited for some football? We are! This week’s assignment is all about watching the game while drinking the perfect beer. We’ve selected 10 of our favorites, all accessible and attainable anywhere with a reasonable beer selection. Break out the guac and chips and tap into some of these great brews from around the country as we welcome back football!
- Sixpoint Brewery: Sweet Action
When I think of refreshing ale with extreme drinkability that has hoppiness, body and flavor but would still appeal to just about anyone, this beer comes to mind. In NYC, it’s the go-to at summer venues from Central Park Summerstage to Citifield, but it also comes in convenient four-packs of 16-ounce cans. This delicious caramel-colored cream ale is hoppy enough to sub for an IPA and at 5.2% is light enough to have quite a few throughout the day. Perfect for Giants fans on their march to the Super Bowl or Jets fans drowning their misery away (full disclosure: I will be one of those Jets fans).
- Spoetzl Brewery: Shiner Bock
An excellent segue from the “lights” to get your friends into the darker shade of beer. It’s a macro, but this amber bock is truly the cult beer of Texas and generated a ton of buzz when it finally showed up in NYC this year (just in time for the Giants/Cowboys game Sunday night!) It’s really drinkable at just 4.4% ABV and is a great companion to a cookout that won’t weigh you down before, during or after the game.
- Lagunitas Brewing Company: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Here's a beer that has something for just about everyone: it’s hoppy, wheaty, crisp and refreshing, but also doesn’t play around. It hides its 7.5% ABV dangerously well and drinks like a beer half its weight. LSS is a standby that consistently surprises people, even those who steer clear of hoppy flavors. Just like the 49ers, this beer just keeps on finding ways to win.
- Cisco Brewers: Sankaty Light
No, really, good light beer does exist! This one weighs in at just 3.8% ABV and a friendly little 126 calories, but what this golden-colored brew doesn’t skimp on is flavor. Expect a true floral hop bite with hints of lemon and bready malt. This crisp, drinkable lager from Nantucket should be a standby in your Sunday playbook.
- Goose Island Beer Company: Honkers Ale
Lost in the madness of Goose Island upping production — all politics aside — of their massive BCBS series is the fact that their classic ales are still fantastic. This former Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner is just a touch bitter but not overwhelmingly so, and leans more on fruity citrus flavors and biscuity caramel malt. At 4.3%, it goes down easily, kind of like Bears’ Quarterback Jay Cutler (ouch).
- Dogfish Head: Festina Pêche
You might know Dogfish Head for their excellent IPAs or quirky Ancient Ales, but this excellent session ale is a fruit-forward take on Berliner Weissbier made with peach concentrate. At 4.5% ABV and a scant 8 IBUs, there's almost no bitterness. Lactic fermentation lends a tart green apple flavor that works perfectly with the peaches. It’s a great thirst-quenching alternative to other heavier styles, and would work very nicely with some pregame sausages on the grill.
- Founders Brewing Company: All Day IPA
We singled out this sessionable IPA from Grand Rapids favorites for our Spring beers list. They've already increased distribution of All Day IPA bottles, but it’s worth repeating now that All Day comes in cans, too! You’d be hard-pressed to find an IPA that drinks easier than this — which at 4.7% you could really drink all day and probably all night, too. The taste is bitter but doesn’t overwhelm with hints of pine, citrus and spice. A perfect beer for Lions fans as the start of the season: bitter and doesn’t overwhelm (haaaa!)
- Oskar Blues Brewing Company: Dales Pale Ale
Oskar Blues was a pioneer of the craft can business, and this is their flagship brew. It’s 6.5%, so it’s on the stronger side for your typical canned single IPA, but still goes down smooth. Beautiful citrus hops highlighted by grapefruit and a substantial bready malt backbone. Like a pass from Peyton Manning, you can count on it every time.
- 21st Amendment Brewery: Hell or High Watermelon
Here's a beer that discerning craft beer-drinkers love to hate on, but on a hot day there really is nothing better. This wheat beer brewed with watermelons is your answer for a fun summer brew accessible even to the BMC (Bud-Miller-Coors) crowd. Another winner from San Fran, opening weekend is a perfect time to finish off the last of these summer favorites while the good stuff's still in season.
- Ballast Point Brewing Company's Sculpin IPA
If you’re a fan of the tropical fruitiness of West Coast IPAs, it’s hard to do much better than Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Sculpin IPA. Even at 7% ABV, it’s one of the most drinkable IPAs in existence thanks to the perfect balance of bold floral hops — think sweet, not bitter. The Chargers might not be going anywhere this year but this San Diego standby beer will help you forget all that in no time!
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