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Boiler Brews: A guide to Classy Tailgating – vs. MTSU

Prologue: This is the first installment of what I plan to be a Friday feature for every home game this season.  The goal is to promote and encourage the consumption of local microbrews in the Purdue tailgating lots, expanding the beer palate of the H&R readership.  Season-long disclaimer:  I am a card-carrying beer snob.  But give me a chance to change your mind, ok?

Finally, football season is upon us.  In a matter of hours, droves of fans will descend on college campuses throughout the country and, more than likely, will be cracking an adult beverage as soon as their vehicles shift into park.  It is the union of delicious food, satisfying drink, and gridiron excitement that make Saturdays in the fall the best time of the year.  

Undoubtedly, many of these drinks will be the widely available, mass-produced light beers that are pervasive on TV, in print, and in can coozies everywhere.  These beers (loosely defined) have had all the flavor of traditional beers brewed right out of them, along with any semblance of craftsmanship and creativity. 

Meanwhile, all over the country, including right here in Indiana, the microbrewing industry is booming, and the beers that small, local breweries are making are, by and large, excellent.   It is my goal to persuade the habitual light beer drinkers to pick up a pack of some local beer to try at the next Boilermaker tailgate in hopes that you say "Hey, this is pretty damn good!" and leave the Big 3 (Miller, Coors, Budweiser) in the rear view mirror.   

With all that said, let’s get to my recommendations for this week against MTSU. 

According to The Weather Channel, we should be expecting hot weather on Saturday, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees around kickoff.  This, to me, suggests that we should select a beer more fit for summertime; a lighter, golden beer with a decent amount of hop flavor should fit the bill nicely.  All three of my suggestions for this week are brewed within a 2 hour drive of Ross-Ade.

Sunlight Cream Ale – Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis

Sunlight is a great beer to consume in hot weather.  Flavorful but not too hoppy, I see this beer as a good entry level microbrew for those not accustomed to a beer that tastes like, well, beer.  It’s creators describe it as "Our most approachable beer, Sunlight has a smooth malt profile and a crisp, clean finish."  Sun King is relatively new on the brewing scene, but I have been pleased by most of the beers that I’ve tried from them.  As far as the nitty gritty, Sunlight sports a 5.3% ABV (179 calories per pint –less calorie dense than regular soda!), and scores a modest 20 on the International Bitterness Unit (IBU) scale.

Sunlight isn’t too hard to find at stores around central Indiana, and comes in a unique 16 ounce can, typically in a four pack that will set you back around $10.  However, the best way to stock up on Sunlight for game day is to head to the brewery in downdown Indianapolis.  The tasting room is open to those of legal drinking age, and comes with FREE (!) tasting of the breweries various offerings.  Also, on Fridays you can fill up a 64 ounce growler (sold separately – reusable) with Sunlight for 5 bucks.  That’s pretty hard to beat, folks. Never fear; the growler, if unopened and kept cold, will remain fresh plenty long enough to enjoy it on Slayter Hill.      

Centennial Martyr Double IPA – Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company, Indianapolis

Even newer to the Indiana brewing scene is Thr3e Wise Men  Brewing Company, a part of the Scotty’s Brewhouse empire.  Located on the Broad Ripple strip, this neat little brewpub has a pretty solid beer lineup, not to mention some tasty stellar pizza and assorted bar food favorites.  This week, I’m recommending their Double IPA, a more strongly-flavored offering than Sunlight.  Generous amounts of Amarillo hops help this beer to clock in at 92 IBU, meaning it scores fairly high in bitterness.  That isn’t to say, though, that this beer is only enjoyed by serious beer drinkers.  The inherent bitterness of Centennial Martyr is nicely balanced by clover honey (produced in Martinsville, IN) and, at 8.0% ABV, will give you some definite bang for your buck.    

Similar to above, Thr3e Wise Men offers $6 growler fills on Fridays, providing a good opportunity to score some good local beer on the cheap before gameday.  

Pride & Joy Mild Ale – Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster

My final pick for this week comes to us from the Region, just like Kawann Short.  Three Floyds is, in my opinion, the premier brewery in the state and one of the most celebrated in the whole country (and world!)  Pride & Joy is the Floyd family’s interpretation of an American mild ale.  The stats are as follows: 5.00% ABV and 29 IBU.  Pride & Joy is a moderately flavored easy drinker, perfect for a warm early September afternoon.  The brewery does sell growlers, but not at special discounted prices like Thr3e Wise Men and Sun King.  Still, if you’re coming from the 219, it’s worth a stop to the brewpub to pick some up.  If not, this is one of a few Three Floyds beers that can be found throughout Indiana year ‘round in 6 packs of 12 oz bottles. 

Any of these three would be an excellent choice for Game 1.  I’ll likely be packing at least one of the three varieties, as well as some of my own homemade beer.  Whatever you choose to consume in the tailgate lot, please please please please please be safe and have fun. 

Hope to see you out there!  Cheers, and Hail Purdue!