Super Bowl XXXV may be the biggest football beer-drinking challenge since NFL fans froze their lips tight at the sub-zero Packers/Cowboys Ice Bowl in ’68.
It’ll be almost as tough to swallow a geographically appropriate brew when the Ravens and Giants face off in the big game on Sunday.
Baltimore’s most famous beer, National Bohemian, hasn’t been produced in Baltimore since G. Heileman Brewing shut down its brewery in 1995. I haven’t seen a can of that stuff around these parts in years.
As for East Rutherford, N.J., the closest brewery is a few miles south at the Budweiser factory in Newark.
So there’s your choice: Extinct or just plain Stink.
Look, guys: Super Bowl parties are the No. 2 beer-drinking event of the year (behind New Year’s Eve, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Beer Institute). The least you can do is serve your guests something special.
Your work is cut out for you, though, because the craft brew scene offers little obvious help.
The most logical choice for AFC fans would be Baltimore-Washington Beer Work’s The Raven. Brewed in Germany, it’s a specialty lager with a heavy, malty flavor.
But The Raven is next to impossible to find.
President Stephen Demczuk told me that the brewery, which normally produces about 100 barrels a month, is completely sold out.
“We’ve gotten a huge, incredible request for the beer,” Demczuk said. “We’re out of kegs, and we’re expecting more bottles [today], but they’re already sold out. ”
Even the brewery’s glassware and T-shirts are gone.
Thankfully, other Baltimore-area specialty brews provide some relief. Look for Clipper City Brewing Chesapeake Gold Ale, which won a bronze medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. And Baltimore Brewing Co. makes a bunch of excellent German-style brews. DeGroen’s Dunkles is a terrific complement to spicy food.
Both are available locally.
North Jersey is a bigger challenge. Despite its proximity to New York, the vicinity is not known for craft-brewing.
Giants fans, however, may find some satisfaction from beers by Triumph Brewing, in Princeton, N.J.
Don’t care who wins?
Look for a locally made keg of craft brew at your friendly distributor. It’s the freshest beer you can find, and prices usually average less than a buck a glass.
Most distributors will handle special orders, if you give a day or two notice.
It’s a stretch, but two local gridiron-appropriate craft brews are Yards Brewing ESA of Manayunk and Victory Brewing HopDevil IPA of Downingtown.