There’s never a bad time for a beer, but there are some ideal times—and football games fall squarely in that category. Because whether you’re enjoying a quiet afternoon on the couch or hosting an entire backyard full of football-and-grilled-meat enthusiasts, you’re going to want some beer.
Fortunately, there’s a seemingly unlimited amount of beers to choose from, but lest you get overwhelmed by all the options, we’re recommending five of our favorites that range from light to heavy and will take you from pregame festivities to the final whistle. And because no day of football is complete without cigars, we’re also highlighting a cigar to pair with each beer. So you can spend less time making decisions, and more time shouting at your TV.
Light lagers often get a bad rap as watery, flavorless swill, but don’t let the sins of mass-production breweries turn you off of the entire category. Night Shift Brewing’s Nite Lite is the perfect example of a light, low-ABV lager that doesn’t sacrifice flavor. Made from real corn, German hops, and premium two-row barley, it’s crisp, sessionable and goes down easy, so it’s the perfect beer to reach for prior to kick off.
Pilsners are always a great choice for midday beers, or whenever you want to drink well without weighing yourself down. Victory Prima Pils is one of the best examples in the category. Brewed with German hops, it’s crisp and floral, with notes of spice and citrus that cleanse the palate and keep you coming back for more.
When it’s time for a pale ale, it’s hard to beat Mirror Pond by Oregon-based Deschutes. Four types of malt provide a smooth, caramel-accented backbone that combines with Cascade hops for that coveted interplay between sweet malt and hoppy citrus. At just 40 IBUs and 5% ABV, Mirror Pond Pale Ale packs a lot of flavor into a sessionable package.
Jai Alai IPA hails from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. It clocks in at 7.5% ABV and ups the IBU ante to 65, so it’s a markedly more hop-forward beer. Don’t confuse hops with a bitter bomb, however, as Jai Alai leans toward the citrusy spectrum with notes of clementines and sweet Valencia orange peels mingling alongside rich malts.
This fun-loving beer hits shelves nationwide each fall and remains available throughout the holiday season, aka football season. Stone Xocoveza is brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, evoking Mexican hot chocolate with each sip. Given its robust flavor and heady alcohol content, it’s the perfect candidate for sipping slowly beside the fire.
About the author:Kevin Gray is a food, drinks and travel writer who's always searching for new experiences. His travels have taken him to cigar factories, distilleries and wineries around the world, and his work has appeared in outlets including Eater, Forbes, InsideHook, Liquor.com, Thrillist and Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Instagram @kevinrgray.