Super Bowl Decision -- What to Drink During Game

With about 100 million Americans expected to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday a big decision for many fans will be what type of beer to drink during the four-hour television broadcast.Gene Muller, the owner of the Flying Fish Brewing Company in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said the choice of lager or ale for the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers could depend on whether or not you're a football fan.

"If you're going to watch the game, you need something that will let you get through the four hours. Like an extra pale ale that has some flavor to it, but allows you to still be able to enjoy a few," he said.

"If, on the other hand, you're just interested in the commercials and don't mind sleeping through the half-time show, you can go with something that may have a bit more flavor and alcohol like a Belgian-style beer."

At the Hinterland Brewery in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where every good football game is accompanied by bratwurst, owner Bill Tressler expects most of his customers will be sipping the fuller-bodied ales.

"The hoppiness of the ales really stands up very well with the spice from say bratwurst or chicken wings," he explained, adding that when the Packers win, he will break out the maple bock."It's made with maple syrup. We don't use the maple for flavoring. We use it for extra fermentable sugar," he said.

Ryan Johnson, brew master for the MillerCoors' craft and imported beers in Chicago, explained that while there are many styles of beer, there really are only two types -- ale and lager. The main difference between them is the kind of yeast used in fermentation.

Ales, which have been around for thousands of years, "tend to be discussed in terms such as fruity, robust and flavorful," according to Johnson, "while lagers are often described as crisp, clean and refreshing."

And just as there are broad guidelines for wines, the same holds true for beer."Nice ales are almost like red wines and go very well with bigger, more flavorful dishes. Lagers, more often than not, tend to be paired with lighter fare," Johnson said.

He recommends lighter lagers to quench the fire from hot chicken wings, though the malt in ale has a sweetness that also works well with spicy foods.

Johnson said stouts and sweeter ales also had a proper place at the Super Bowl party table."Stouts will act as cold coffee with dessert," he said, "except for the lack of caffeine and the addition of alcohol."

Andy Rich of the Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh suggested lagers would go very well with pierogies, the boiled, baked or fried dumplings that are part of that city's football diet.

"They're a good beer soaker too," he said. "Our German-style pilsner is a light golden beer, very crisp and clean and very good with spicy food. It enhances the flavors and will quench your thirst as well," Rich said.

If Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl, Scott Smith at East End Brewing Company, also in Pittsburgh, will break out "our gratitude barley wine. It's a real game-ender at 11.5% alcohol."