Washington and New England Drink Picks for Super Bowl XLIX
Just under five months ago, the Seattle Seahawks started the defense of their Super Bowl title at home against another NFC powerhouse, the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks can end their season by becoming the first back-to-back Super Bowl team since their opponents, the New England Patriots, repeated in 2004 and 2005. It is a matchup of two powerhouses in football; both are ranked in the top five in offense (Patriots at number one, Seahawks at three in points per game) and neck and neck in defense (Seahawks at number six and Patriots at number seven are separated by half a point per game). The Patriots, especially Tom Brady, are looking to score their fourth title in six appearances. They are also looking to put to bed certain rumors about air pressure and whether they need it to win games. Sunday will be a big day for these two teams, a handful of advertisers, and the millions of people watching the game at parties and bars around the country. Parties and bars are only as good as the atmosphere they provide. Whether you are at the pet friendly Bad Jimmy’s in Seattle or the upscale beer lover’s paradise at The Publick House in Boston, good libations are a must. Fortunately, Seattle and Boston are incredible cities to find delicious suds or spirits. While technically they are not the Boston Patriots, they play thirty miles south of the city, and they use “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys as their fight song. It keeps everything nice and tidy for the sake of comparison. How can we put those two cities head to head to see which city would take the crown for best city for drinking? In football, teams are usually defined in three different areas: offense, defense, and special teams. We can create three categories for drinking as well: wine, beer, and spirits. How does each city rank in those three categories? Let’s take a look!
Seattle: Washington is the third largest wine producing state in the country. Woodinville, about twenty miles north of the city, is home to two of the state’s largest wineries. Chateau Ste. Michelle, founded at the end of Prohibition and the oldest winery in the state, is the 2014 New York International Wine Competition’s Washington Winery of the Year. With over four dozen wines to select from, you can find a little something for everyone. They even offer a few varieties of sparkling wine to celebrate a Seahawks repeat. From the chateau you can see their rival for largest winery in the state, Columbia Winery. Calling themselves “Washington state’s first premium winery,” they offer a much shorter list than their neighbor. They were the first winery to introduce several varieties of grapes to the Columbia Valley, including the popular Syrah.
Boston: With a place named Martha’s Vineyard within the state borders, one would think that the area may have some wine chops. That is not entirely the case. They are ranked about twenty third in wine production, nestled between wine powerhouses like Tennessee and Iowa. The Boston Winery is the only winery in the city, offering in-house tastings and bottles you can bring home that taste great with nachos. A short drive will take you to Turtle Creek Winery which offers a delightful selection of traditional varietals, or Alfalfa Farm Winery where you can find other fruit wines made of cranberries, pomegranates, or blueberries.
WINNER: Seattle. Washington wines generally receive higher marks and are more widely known. Massachusetts experiments more with the fruit in the state, but the wine is not a draw on a wider scale.
Seattle: The buzz over the last week has been about the purchase of Elysian Brewing by Anheuser-Busch. Are they still craft? Are they just sell outs? Only time will tell. But they are not the only game in Seattle when it comes to craft brews. Fremont Brewing offers a great selection of beers, including the Abominable Ale which is coming close to the end of its season and their Wandering Wheat, perfect for drinking through the whole day. The year round offerings of Pyramid Brewing range from the snappy bite of their Outburst Imperial IPA to their summery sweet Apricot Ale. Considering the time of year and the weather, a winter warmer like Snow Cap may be called for on the east coast. As a special mention, Hilliard’s Beer created the 12th Can as a nod to the rabid Seahawk fan base.
Boston: Speaking of the “Are they still craft?” debate, I present to you the Boston Beer Company. They were named Massachusetts Brewery of the Year at the 2014 New York International Beer Competition, and sport a long list of beers that are award winners, including their 2011 Utopias, Cinder Bock Smoked Beer, and Maple Pecan Porter. They are still major advocates of craft brewing and for many a gateway beer into craft brews. While they may be the biggest game in town, they are not the only one. Harpoon Brewery is another popular brewery with a wide range of beer options. Some are heavy hitters, like their Czernobog Russian Imperial Stout and Leviathan IPA. If you are looking for a lighter sipper, their UFO (UnFiltered Offering) series has a great range of flavors with a lower ABV. If you are in Boston, Trillium Brewing has a top notch line of beers to try at a variety of locations, and growlers you can pick up on Saturday for the Super Bowl.
WINNER: Boston. Having one of the largest craft breweries in the country helps. As a side note, Elysium and Harpoon have a little bet on who will win in Arizona. The winner will send three kegs to the losing city’s bar, who will put it on tap. They also have to fly the flag of the winning team over their bar until the beer is gone.
Seattle: Seattle is a city that is creating future trends more than they are looking for them. Friends of mine in the area have sworn by OOLA Distillery, celebrating their fifth year in 2015. It is a great local place run by people who love spirits and distill liquors they want to drink. It has converted many people stronger spirits like gin and whiskey that they otherwise would not have tried. You can pick up some unique liqueurs, spirits and bitters at Sound Spirits, Seattle’s first distillery since Prohibition. They have a
tasting room for those that want to try their Aquavit or Old Tom gin before taking home a bottle. The fine distillers at Westland Distillery have been getting love in the national press as well, winning the award for Washington State Distillery of the Year at the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition, and claiming a Gold Medal for their Peated Single Malt Whiskey, and their unpeated single malt won gold all they way over at the 2014 Berlin International Spirits Competition. They are continuously experimenting with other whiskeys, discovering new flavors and sharing them with an increasingly large fan base.
Boston: Where Seattle is looking for cutting edge and unique spiritual growth, Boston is looking to the past. The distillers there start where their colonial forefathers did, with copious amounts of rum production. Bully Boy Distillers were inspired by a vault of recently discovered Prohibition era liquors on their family farm. The liquors were not drinkable, but inspired the brothers who own it to resurrect rum making in New England. They have created an award winning white rum, their uniquely aged Boston
Rum, and their Hub Punch fruit infused rum. Much like Westland’s focus on whiskey, Privateer Rum does one thing, but does it amazingly well. Two smooth, handcrafted rums, one silver and one amber, and one floral gin make up their entire line. It allows the distillery to get to know the product exceedingly well and the customer to learn about the bottle of rum they bought, right down to the barrels. The distillers at Berkshire Mountain have been making a name for themselves by hand crafting some of the best up and coming spirits on the market. They have a wide range of spirits, allowing you to stop at one place for all your liquors for the Patriot party.
WINNER: Draw. Both cities offer a versatile portfolio of hand crafted spirits, replete with awards from across the country. Anyone would be hard pressed to push one way or another that either city was superior in this category.
Much like the two teams stepping onto the field Sunday, Seattle and Boston are very evenly matched from a spirituous perspective. It is hard to beat Washington state and their wines, and Boston’s beer scene helped to build the gateway to the craft beer movement. Adding products from either of these cities will make your football-watching experience a better one. Either a new dynasty will be started on Sunday in Seattle, or a current one will be continued in New England. We all get to sit back and enjoy it with our favorite bottle or cocktail. Go football!