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Super Bowl Beer Showdown: Atlanta’s SweetWater Vs. New England’s Sam Adams

On Super Bowl Sunday, you’re going to drink beer. Let me make an argument for you to drink good beer.


On Super Bowl Sunday, you’re going to drink beer. Let me make an argument for you to drink good beer. Don’t get roped in by the Clydesdale commercials, or think that Bud’s for you. Head to your local grocery or liquor store and get some good beer.

If you want beer to match the teams, I have some options for you: A beer from Atlanta, and a beer from New England.

Coming in from Atlanta, we have SweetWater Brewing Company’s Hash Brown, a hop infused India Style Brown Ale. Hash Brown is a bottle-conditioned beer, which means it finishes the brewing process in the bottle itself. Here’s the scientific explanation of what bottle conditioning means: “The bottle-conditioning technique involves bottling beer that contains little or no carbon dioxide and then adding priming sugars that yeast will ferment in the bottle.” This biochemical process gives the beer a natural carbonation.

Bottle-conditioning gives Hash Brown a solid head that sticks around as you drink the beer, sort of like a Guinness. The carbonation is smooth and the flavors complex. You get the warm, tasty notes of the brown malts with an interesting hoppy kick. That kick comes in part from “hop hash.”

And just what is hop hash, you ask? It’s a byproduct in the process that makes hop pellets. When brewers add hops to beer, sometimes they add them as pellets. In the process of making these pellets, there is a leftover sticky, resiny substance. Producers generally just throw it away, but SweetWater is one of the breweries that saw opportunity in this byproduct, thus Hop Hash beers.

The hop hash makes this brown ale unique, and a tasty alternative to the typical IPA. Like the Atlanta Falcons, it will surprise and intrigue you.

Representing the New England area is Hopscape, a hopped wheat ale from Samuel Adams. It’s hard to find a bar or beer seller that doesn’t have some type of Sam Adams available. Their lager is the easiest to find, and it’s a decent beer, but when they play with ingredients and change it up a bit, Samuel Adams can make some seriously tasty brews.

On Election Night I featured their Rebel IPA, which is a hoppy, tasty, but not too overpowering IPA. Today’s brew is Hopscape, their winter seasonal beer. This gold-colored wheat ale is brewed with four hops: Centennial, Chinook, Citra, and Zeus, giving it nice piney and citrusy notes. It’s not an IPA, it’s a wheat beer, but these hops give it an extra layer of flavor that makes this beer stand out.

Hopscape is a cloudy, soft, easy-drinking beer that comes from a brewery that has their formula down pat. They make a lot of beer, and they do it consistently. Sound familiar? It just like the New England Patriots. They are an NFL franchise that is nothing if not consistent. They plan ahead, execute with precision, and have a little chip on their shoulder that ensures they always play motivated.

On Sunday the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the New England Patriots in the biggest game of the year. Pick a beer from your side, toast the game, and eat some fried chicken. The Super Bowl is one of the most American of experiences. Soak it in, raise a glass, and thank the man upstairs for this great nation and our greatest of games: football.