I’ve never been one to watch “the game” on Sundays. In fact I’ve been known to stop by a friend’s place, then turn around and walk right out the door again as soon as I see what’s on the TV. However when Alec Stephens III, bartender at Pine Box Rock Shop, let me know how they would be celebrating the last weeks of football, I had to stop by. In the weeks leading up to and including the Super Bowl, Pine Box is bringing in beers from the hometowns of the teams participating in the events. On Sunday I got pints from two of my favorite breweries, the Nomad Pilsner from Great Divide Brewing Co and the Back in Black, Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery born and brewed in Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA respectively.
For our first round at Pine Box this weekend my friend Matt requested a Bud Lite. Such beer is in short supply at Pine Box, but I knew what he meant: he wanted something light and drinkable, so I got him the Great Divide Nomad Pils instead. The hallmarks of the Bohemian Pils, a crisp and medium-bodied brew that goes down easy, are all present in the Nomad without sacrificing kick-ass flavor as some lesser breweries tend to do when working with such subtle flavors. In the glass it’s a hazy golden yellow with some light head and an aroma that’s mostly bready with a little bit of floral hops. It’s smooth on the tongue with more biscuity malts at first and just a tad bit of bittering hops to give it a crisp finish. Matt was happy and I even got one for myself to ease into the day.
From the Nomad I moved on to one of my favorite brews, and something of a rarity on tap in these parts, the Back in Black, Black IPA. The black IPA is as if my two favorite beer styles – the IPA and the Porter – came together and birthed a beautiful love child, with all the hoppiness of an IPA and the elevated malt levels of a robust Porter. Back in Black is a quite drinkable version of the style, if not the most amped up one I’ve tried. It’s dark brown, almost black, with a thick tan head and aroma that combines roasted coffee from the malts with piney hop scents. There’s coffee and chocolate on first sip, easing into some floral, spicy hop flavors at the finish. I was enjoying it so much, that as I headed to my friend’s place to finish watching “the game” (in reality just to eat pizza in the hopes that they’d put on a movie after) I picked up a six pack at Hops and Hocks to continue our boozy Sunday right.
Jeff and Heather Rush, the owners of Pine Box, have been pairing beers with the Super Bowl teams for a while now, but there was a problem with the strategy. “The past few years we lost out on a couple good beer cities if they didn’t make it [to the Super Bowl],” Jeff said. So they decided apply the same strategy to the games leading up to the big finale. “It really affects how we treat the teams,” Jeff said, seated beside me in a bright blue Sea Hawks jersey and electric green matching hat. “I was cheering for San Francisco because they have such great breweries to choose from.” Of course that all changed this Sunday when the 49ers went up against Jeff’s home team the Hawks, but having great beer cities to choose from made for happy taste buds all around, if some folks went home disappointed by other outcomes of the day.
To round out the proper team representations this past Sunday, Pine Box also featured Sam Adams Rebel IPA for the Patriots and the Elysian Perseus Porter to rep the Hawks. In two Sundays they’re thinking they’ll have something new from Great Divide for the Broncos and perhaps something from Elysian again for Sea Hawks. I may try to avoid the big screens, but I’ll be there for the beer!
Pine Box Rock Shop’s Game Day Celebration gets 4/5 stars – 2 for a great concept of pairing awesome breweries with their football conterparts, 1 for featuring the Nomad a true quality Pils, and 1 for including the Back in Black, Black IPA, an underrepresented style.
Pine Box Rock Shop is located at 12 Grattan St, Brooklyn. They open at 4pm on weekday and 2pm on weekends, closing at 2am Sun – Tues and 4am Wed – Sat, with a daily Happy Hour until 8pm. My beers were each $6.
Hops & Hocks is located at 2 Morgan Avenue, just past Flushing. It is open daily from 11am – 8pm. My six-pack of Back in Black was $13.50.
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks. Let her know what you’re drinking and where via Twitter and Instagram, hashtag #bushwickbrews.