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Cast your vote in the Hop Notes Super Bowl of Beer

In full disclosure, I don’t get nearly as excited about the Super Bowl as I do about World Cup soccer or the Stanley Cup playoffs. But living in the United States, one can hardly not get at least a little bit caught up in the Super Bowl hype.

As a current resident of Indiana, I guess I’m supposed to cheer for the Seahawks, since there is a good chance that the Patriots are cheaters and they beat the Colts.

Anyway, I’ll save the political football talk for someone else — let’s get to the Super Bowl of beer.

The two obvious beer choices from the two cities competing in this year’s Super Bowl are Redhook Brewery headquartered in Seattle, and Boston Beer Company (aka. Sam Adams) headquartered in Boston.

Ha! I said I was going to leave the politics for someone else, but you may have noticed that I used the word “headquartered” before the city of each brewery. That’s because neither brewery is actually producing beer in the the city where it started — and there’s some controversy as to whether they are too big to be considered craft brewers any more.

I am not going to wade into that controversy, but here are the facts.


Redhook Brewery was founded in Seattle, Wash., in 1981. Washington has had, and continues to have, a great craft beer culture. In 2008, Redhook merged with Widmer Brothers Brewery to form a company called Craft Brew Alliance and added Kona Brewing Company in 2010.

Most likely any Redhook beer on the shelves in Michiana was brewed in their Portsmouth, N.H., production facility. My first memory of enjoying Redhook beer was on the return trip from the West Coast on the Amtrack Empire Builder about 16 years ago. That beer I know was brewed in Seattle.


Depending on who you talk with, Jim Kock is often referred to as the father of American craft beer. He founded the Samuel Adams brand in 1984 with Samuel Adams Lagerand today his company is tied with Yuengling as the largest American-owned beermaker.  

Even though headquarters are still located in Boston, the Sam Adams beer on our shelves was all brewed at the old Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewery in Cincinnati (Koch’s hometown), where his father apprenticed in the 1940s.

Earlier this month there was an article about Jim Koch and his brewery written by Andy Crouch in the Boston Magazine. No matter what your thoughts on Sam Adams, it’s a good read worth your time.

Both of these beers are available in Michiana. On any normal day for me at my local bottle shop, I would probably not have picked up either Samual Adams Boston Lager (4.9 percent ABV, IBUs 30) or Redhook Long Hammer IPA (6.2 percent ABV, IBUs 44). But hey, it’s the Super Bowl of Beer.

It had been a long time since I had tasted either one of these beers, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with both of them.  I am not going to influence anyone else’s decision, but this is where you weigh in. In our Flavor 574 Super Bowl of Beer, each brewery will get one point for each vote. Let’s play ball—uh…how about, let’s play beer!

Both Seattle and Boston produce some very good beer.  On the same train trip that I enjoyed Redhook, we also visited West Seattle Brewing and the Fish Tale Brewpub about an hour away in Olympia, Wash. Fish Tale Organic ales are available in Michigan.

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, from the Boston area, distributes to Indiana, and if you make the trip to Boston, I highly recommend stopping at Cambridge Brewing Company.  

Personally, I will not be drinking either of the above beers this Sunday during the Super Bowl. Instead, I will be enjoying some barrel aged beers.

One special treat that I brought back from Myrtle Beach, S.C. is a growler of New South Brewing Company bourbon barrel aged Lily.

The theme for the rest of our beer will be collaborations. First will be Bo & Luke (imperial smoked stout aged in bourbon barrels, 13 percent ABV) which was brewed by Against the Grain Brewery and Brouwerij De Molen.

The last bottle will be Smokey and The Bois (American Strong Ale aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans and cacao nibs, 16.2 percent ABV) brewed by The Bruery in collaboration with The Rare Beer Club.

Whatever you are drinking during the game, make sure that you have plenty of guacamole, cheer loud for your team, yell at the TV when the refs make a bad call, and vote for your favorite beer in our Super Bowl of beer.

For more Michiana beer news, commentary and fun and games from Eric Strader, subscribe to the Hop Notes email newsletter.

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