When it comes to beer and sports, football gets a lot of love. However, April and I are both fans of another cold weather sport: hockey! With a good game comes a good beer, and here are some of our favorite beers to sip during the good old hockey game.
HOCKEY, HOCKEY, HOCKEY, I am OBSESSED with hockey — even more so than I am with beer. Living outside of Columbus, Ohio, I have the great joy and heartache of being a Columbus Blue Jackets fan and season ticket holder. Attending a game is one of my favorite pastimes. There’s nothing like an arena experience, whether it’s hockey or any other sport. I love the rush and exhilaration of cheering for your team, interacting with other fans, and of course, drinking a few cold ones.
Lucky for me the Nationwide Arena offers a wide variety of craft selections. My two favorite beer stands in the arena are Ohio Crafts & Drafts and Arch City Ales. Last Saturday the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Colorado Avalanche, and I was able to attend the game with my cousin. The home team pulled ahead of the visitors with 1:07 left in regulation to make it a 2 to 1 game.
Not only did we win, we had great seats, appeared on the Jumbotron, and drank an excellent selection of beer. My selections of the night included:
*Land Grant’s 42-1 Imperial IPA (ABV 8%) — This was my favorite selection of the night. The smell was very enticing with a strong piney and citrus smell. Taste was grassy and earthy and just spot on. I give it 5 stars.
*Founder’s Dirty Bastard (ABV 8.5%) — Unfortunately I only had a sip of this Scotch Ale because the keg ran out (insert sad face). I really enjoyed it. It was dark and creamy, full of caramel and toffee flavors with a hint of smoke.
*Binding Brauerel’s Schofferhofer Grapefruit (ABV 2.5%) — This was my least favorite of the night. It was very sweet and the grapefruit took over. I think I would enjoy it more on a hot summer day. It reminded me of a Leinenkugel Shandy.
*Sweetwater Hashbrown (ABV 6.2%) — An India Brown Ale, infused with hop hash. Need I say more? Thumbs up.
Other beers available were brewed by Great Lakes, Bells, Atwater, Southern Tier, Elevator Brewing, Rhinegeist, Madtree, DuClaw … you get the point. There are many options to choose from.
Yearly Event — Every year the Columbus Blue Jackets host a special event called Hockey N Heels. Women are invited to attend a Q&A with team personnel. The personnel include the GM, announcers, refs, players and more. Food and drink are served and every one in attendance receives a gift bag (plus a ticket to that night’s game). Sadly I cannot attend this year, but I was able to attend last year. It was informative and of course I always love meeting a player.
I married into hockey fandom. I was so clueless about both hockey and the Washington Capitals that in 2010, when the new man in my life (now my husband) said he liked to “Rock the Red,” I assumed he was a fan of the Cincinatti Reds. However, once hockey season rolled around, he was more than happy to introduce me to his other true love, starting with watching playoff games at a local bar and culminating into several live games per season. I have since become a Caps fan in my own right, having favorite players (my #1 is Goalie Braden Holtby) and picking up on the cheers and traditions each game holds.
One of my favorite traditions is having a cold beer during the game. The Capitals play at the Verizon Center, which is like many big arenas — expensive food and even more expensive beer. Overall, the Verizon Center has a decent beer selection, featuring an impressive number of foreign beers, including a whole stand dedicated to Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks; and Hoegaarden appearing on a few draft lines. There are also several good domestic choices, namely Goose Island (the Goose IPA is available in cans as well as on draft), Blue Point, and Elysian.
However, across sports, my favorite way to celebrate a local team is to drink a local beer. This leads to my main beer gripe with the Verizon Center — the local options are lacking. This normally wouldn’t surprise me at a major sports venue, but last year, there were tons of local options, including Flying Dog, Starr Hill, and Devil’s Backbone. This really impressed me, and led to a major letdown when I returned for the 2015-16 hockey season to find almost all of them gone. There’s still good beer to be had, but having less local options somewhat diminished the beer portion of my hockey experience.
This is all the more reason why I’m grateful for the local option that’s still available. Throughout the stadium, Heritage Brewing Co. (based in Manassas) appears alongside the other domestics. If you want Heritage on draft, there are an assortment of brews to choose from at The Bone, a barbecue place on the 100 level. My favorite to get on draft is Kings Mountain, their scotch ale — it’s a perfect blend of earthy, smoky, and sweet. However, if you’re in the upper levels, you can find cans of their American Expedition. This is a honey ginger wheat ale, and it’s very delicious. During games, I usually prefer lighter brews that aren’t heavy in alcohol but do pack the flavor, and American Expedition more than fits the bill. I usually get this when I go to games, but sometimes get Guinness or Harp to switch things up.
Beer is but a part of the hockey experience, and it’s a fun part for me. I love toasting the Capitals, and it felt really good raising my pint to cheer them on as they played the New York Rangers. On top of a great game (in which the Caps won 5-2), Right Wing Justin Williams scored a hat trick (when one player scores three goals in one game), a feat I have never seen in person. Toques and other hats flew through the air while everyone cheered (and held onto their beers, of course). The energy in the stadium couldn’t be beat.
What are some of your favorite hockey beers?