Each year only two teams make it to the Super Bowl, leaving the denizens of the 30 other NFL cities wondering who to root for based on the popularity of the players. But the more important question is – which city produces better booze?
On the surface it may seem bizarre to worry about the quality of the local drinks of the league championship cities, but teams come and go and star players often fade even faster. Who knows where Big Ben or Aaron Rodgers will be in a few years? Not to mention the simple fact that you can't enjoy either of them in a can or glass alongside a plate of wings or a bowl of chili while you watch the game. Sure, you could pull up endless stats on ESPN, or watch a week of pregame shows like you do every year, but it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as trying some of the best bottles and cans from the Steelers' and Packers' hometowns in a Fox BYO-style Booze Bowl.
We should know, since that's exactly what we did – a few days before Sunday - pitting a microbrew, a macrobrew and an artisan spirit from the regions around Green Bay and Pittsburgh against each other in a three round, no-holds-barred battle to determine which city takes home the trophy. After all, Super Bowl glory is fleeting, but a victory in the first annual Fox BYO Booze Bowl offers satisfaction and bragging rights for years to come.
The Macrobrews – Schlitz vs. Iron City Beer
Working class beers for working class towns, Schlitz and Iron City exemplify the blue collar dilemma of outsourcing – Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Schlitz has been taken over by the Pabst Brewing Company of Woodridge, Illinois, while the brewing of Pittsburgh's Iron City now takes place at the Rolling Rock facility in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. That said, both brands remain inextricably tied to their traditional regions, and locals still guzzle them by the case to this day. Both are American Lagers and have the characteristic pale gold color and easy drinking flavors of this type of beer. But where Iron City exhibits mostly sweetness, with some faint malt and nary a hop to be found, Schlitz brings a solid hit of malt and enough of the bitter tang of hops to serve as a reminder that you're drinking beer, not yellow water. Like most industrially produced beers, neither stands up well to modern microbrews, but Schlitz reaches deep to hold off fourth quarter bratwurst and pretzels while Iron City is pretty much tasteless under a hail of buffalo wings. There's a reason it's the beer that made Milwaukee famous. Winner: Schlitz
The Microbrews – Titletown Brewing Company 400 Honey Ale vs. Duquesne Pilsener Beer
Duquesne Pilsener is a beer out of Pittsburgh's storied past that was recently resurrected by Pittsburgh entrepreneur Mark J. Dudash and is contract brewed by City Brewing. Lined up against 400 Honey Ale, a beer made with Wisconsin honey and perfectly suited for a day on the couch with spicy foods and football, Duquesne would seem to be the underdog. But just like Pittsburgh's defense, what you see on the surface isn't necessarily what you'll get. 400 Honey Ale is as tasty and as drinkable as Ines Sainz, but just like the subject the alleged cell phone pics of a certain one-time Packers QB - there's just not quite enough there to maintain anyone's interest. Muted sweetness and hoppy spice give way to a quickly fading fruit note. Duquesne, on the other hand, seems tailor-made for tailgates and barbecues. With rich malty notes up front, and a touch of bitter hops leading the way for crisp carbonation and a clean and dry finish, it's a bottle to latch on to. Winner: Duquesne
The Spirits – Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka vs. Death's Door Spirits Vodka
Because every city needs a shot of the hard stuff when its team loses, artisanal distilleries are popping up all over the place. Pittsburgh and Green Bay are no exception, with both regions producing vodkas from local potatoes and grains. Death's Door's vodka is clean and pure, with a slight sweetness from the wheat it's made from, and some vanilla notes that deliver a satisfying warmth. It's sophisticated and born to be mixed into cocktails. Boyd & Blair is an even smaller operation that's on the leading edge of returning Pittsburgh to the distilling glories it knew prior to prohibition. Hand bottled, it's a labor of love, with a slightly less complex flavor than Death's Door. It's smooth, sweet and -- unlike Pittsburgh's win over Baltimore -- easy for anyone to swallow. But the lack of depth comes back to haunt it since it takes a supporting role in most cocktails. Winner: Death's Door Spirits Vodka
So, while Pittsburgh puts up a valiant effort, it’s Green Bay that emerges from the bar victorious, showing the world it has more going on than hats that look like cheese, delivering a convincing 2-1 win in the first annual Fox BYO Booze Bowl.