Four Things to Drink In This, The Worst Time of the Year for Sports
February– it’s the worst, right? A month so devoid of meaning, fun, and intrigue that it was docked two days and given a holiday on which couples flaunt their happiness over single people (this is said with all due respect to Black History Month, which we can all agree got the shaft by being placed in February). The Super Bowl has occurred, thus ending football and now all that is left are some college basketball games of marginal importance before March Madness, a bunch of utterly meaningless NBA action, and the scrapbooking convention of sporting events that is the Winter Olympics. Oh, and hockey, I suppose, though here in Ohio I’m more likely to be hit by a Justin Bieber-expelled loogie than meet an ardent supporter of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Suffice it to say watching sports becomes a desperate endeavor in February, leading to wayward viewings of skiing accidents or reruns of Wide World of Sports from the late 1980s. This month is the period in which one sees that which one never thought existed: ESPN’s reality series about 30-something dudes with arrested development issues playing Madden on a bus, competitive playing card throwing tournaments hosted by Norman Chad, A-League soccer. In one’s search for anything remotely athletic to watch, one may encounter things that barely qualify as sport, things the like of which no red-blooded American may have ever seen, let alone understand.
This is a list of beers to accompany those times, likely occurring on a weekend afternoon or Tuesday evening when the only other option is watching a broadcast-edited airing of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. These libations have been tailored to each possible viewing experience, so that the alcohol by volume is appropriate for creating some semblance of enjoyment.
Oh God, It Appears I’m Now Watching: Any Winter Olympics viewings
I Guess I Need to Be Drinking: A four-pack of La Chouffe [8.0% ABV]
Oh, nice, at least the Olympics are on, you think to yourself after clicking through a few channels. Bob Costas’ unflinching, stoic countenance greets you as you’re ready to sit back and enjoy some Olympic hockey. Even speed skating or curling would be acceptable, perhaps even enjoyable. Remember curling last Winter Olympics? You never thought you’d get into it, but then you eventually did because NBC wouldn’t show anything else and at least a handful of your friends were talking about the Canadian women’s squad for a couple days. You can see yourself getting into it all over– what the hell? Cross-country skiing? This is the damned bottom of the barrel. There isn’t a single Summer Olympics event that approaches the mind-numbing banality of this, not even the opening and closing ceremonies.
Belgium’s La Chouffe strong pale ale will help immediately. From a country that has never had a single representative in any Olympic cross-country event, this Belgian merges the crispness of a pale ale with the moderate sweetness and potent alcohol content of a tripel. After one, you’ll find yourself rooting for participants to trip and fall, as no one can look graceful falling on level ground while strapped into skis. Halfway through the four-pack, you’ll browse Wikipedia for a full list of Winter Olympic events and wonder why they don’t just abandon cross-country in favor of making all level-ground skiing a biathalon, as it would be vastly improved by all participants carrying archaic rifles slung across their backs. Near the end of the four pack, you’ll attempt syncing the Inception soundtrack with the “action” onscreen, hoping to liven it up a bit or at least pretend its DiCaprio doing the skiing.
Oh God, It Appears I’m Now Watching: Darts on ESPN2
I Guess I Need to Be Drinking: Three Floyds’ Black Sun Stout [6.5% ABV]
Seriously, darts? How is there not a single college basketball game on right now? Oh that’s right, because it’s ten in the evening on a Tuesday. You really wish you had gotten into Person of Interest at this point. The commentators are barely comprehensible through their thick Irish accents, probably exacerbated by liters of Guinness fortified with Jameson sidecars. You think you can actually smell cigarette smoke wafting from your television. What’s the only thing that is more boring than waiting for a dart board to free up at a dive bar? Watching darts remotely on a television.
At least the Midwestern powerhouse that is Three Floyds has a heavy Irish stout for you to sip on while subjecting yourself to watching portly foreign men play 501. The toasted malt and coffee notes will warm you up with the hint of baker’s chocolate in the background mitigating any intense flavors. At 6.5% ABV, the Black Sun is not too heavy of a hitter, but still packing enough punch to make multiple bottles a warming experience. By the end of a bomber of Black Sun, the dart competition’s combatants attempting to hit a double 8 to close out will seem something closer to enthralling.
Oh God, It Appears I’m Now Watching: Snowmobile racing, sponsored by NOS energy drinks
I Guess I Need to Be Drinking: Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout [11.0% ABV]
Oh man, that Google Chrome advertisement preceding the competition was nothing short of inspiring. I’m going to live my life, damn it! I’m going to carve out a personal history replete with a wife, children, traveling to nearby locales in the United States, and buying a domestic car with all the fanfare of graduating college. I’m going to seize life by the lapels and shake it senseless while chugging carbonated liquefied Sweet Tarts. I’m going to write a book– no, two books! A trilogy! A semi-fictionalized autobiographical trilogy that combines Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius with Angela’s Ashes, but from the perspective of a dissatisfied millennial. It’ll be brilliant! I’ll probably win a MacArthur Genius Grant. But first I need caffeine and booze.
Fear not, brave soul, for one of the highest-rated stouts in America is here to pump you up and elevate you to the levels of EXTREME that these snowmobile riders consider themselves to be. Those poor sled jockeys may guzzle pint after pint of NOS but never know the glory of Stone’s IRS with espresso; a malty, nutty treat for the palette which wears its alcohol content incredibly well, the enjoyment of which is compounded by complimentary notes of dark chocolate, macadamia, and vanilla peeking through. Hemingway would have drank this if he were still alive, I’m sure. Then he would have walked to wherever they hold races of this wintry composite of BMX and NASCAR and punched every single attendee in the head.
Oh God, It Appears I’m Now Watching: Re-runs of Australian rules football
I Guess I Need to Be Drinking: Old Speckled Hen [5.2% ABV]
In the midst of Northern Hemisphere winter, it’s nice to know the sun never sets on the erstwhile British Empire. Australia, despite its horrifying populace of science-fiction sized spiders and scorpions, is a place of endless sun, and at this time of year any reminder that the yellow ball in the sky still exists is comforting. The only problem is the sport they play. Is it football? Is it rugby? Is it some kind of abomination that merges the worst parts of the two together? No matter, at least they hit each other at a speed that would be penalized in the NFL.
While trying to decipher the nature of Aussie rules football, it helps to have one of the most distinct British beers out there– the sweet red ale that is Old Speckled Hen. Creamy and flavorful, though not terribly robust, this beer can be implemented into any drinking game to bide the time while this confounding version of football is playing. Though not as indecipherable as cricket, the play in Aussie rules seems to alternate between a pure demonstration of the athletic ability of humans in peak physical condition and a philosophical musing on the nature of physical contact in 21st then they kick the ball, for some reason. Maybe just because it looks cool. And you know what? After four Old Speckled Hens, it does look cool.