I feel sorry for Americans sometimes. I've heard people label them everything from warmongers to obnoxious, overweight, over-egoed slobs who wish to do nothing more than watch football and eat chicken wings.
But if there was ever a day to sit around and do nothing but watch football and eat chicken wings, it's today. For those out of the know, the United States' biggest annual sporting event kicks off today. Coverage of Super Bowl XLVII starts at noon Kiwi-time. While most of the US will be enjoying their Sunday with beer, food and enough shoulder pads to scare the 80s, those of us not organised enough will spend our Monday at work.
But if you have managed to sort out some leave to watch people run into each other for a few hours, then I imagine you are well prepared. Fried chicken, burgers and pizza seem to be the food options of choice. Of course, a few beverages would not go amiss.
I'm a big fan of Occasion Beer - drinking certain beers at certain times to celebrate certain things. Australian beer on Australia Day, English beer on Queen's Birthday or non-alcoholic beer during Lent; it all just makes sense. It's only suitable that American beer goes with Super Bowl.
There's hardly a person who has not heard of Budweiser. Brewed with water, hops, barley, yeast and up to 40 per cent rice, it really is a sad excuse for a beer. If bland was a flavour, Bud is how you would learn about it. Using so much rice in a beer makes it taste less like beer and more like fizzy, urine-coloured water. Which is fine, if all you want to do is drink it as fast as possible.
But there is good American beer out there. In fact, the United States pumps out some of the best beers in the world. My favourite American beer from last year was Green Flash's Rayon Vert. A pale ale brewed with wild Belgian yeast, it is all fruit on the nose before tasting like a big glass of frothy, dry pineapple juice with a fresh-bread finish.
If you're after something a bit nutty, Rogue's Hazelnut Brown is the way to go. The Oregon brewery have got a smooth brown ale and jazzed it up with some hazelnut extract. While most extracts can taste fake, Hazelnut Brown actually tastes like hazelnuts - albeit hazelnuts coated in smooth milk chocolate with a slightly bitter finish.
There are plenty more American beers out there - the country does have 2126 breweries after all - and most of them are brilliantly made. So pick up some bottles, sit on the couch, pull out the chicken wings and enjoy a bit of sibling rivalry today.
- Manawatu Standard