Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tailgating Part I: Libations

As concerned and responsible Tailgating citizens, we at TNL feel it appropriate to dish out the best of our years of knowledge and lessons learned from miserable failures when it comes to this great college pastime. Today’s edition: merry drink. Some ground rules here, we are assuming if you made it this far you do not belong to a frat or underage drinking faction because you would already know that anything that contains alcohol will suffice. The same goes for the individual that doesn’t have the delusion of going to the game but instead has plans to hang out and get inebriated. Again, anything that has fermented for more then a week will do. Try Mad Dog 20/20; it’s cheap and effective. No, this is aimed at you, oh master of pregame ceremony, the guy trying to look 50 Cent house party-esque on an McHammer budget for his gaggle of friends and coworkers.

First off, have a couple mid-priced liquors around, just a couple, for the few non-beer drinkers that may arrive. Something from the vodka group, Vodka will mix with dirt and taste good. No Grey Goose, but no Jacquin's either, you have your dignity for Christ’s sake. Smirnoff will meet your requirements. Also have a bottle of delicious bourbon, brownest of the brown liquors... So tempting. What's that? You want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a tailgate!

Something like the infamous Jack Daniels or Jim Beam. If you hate both then go for Knob Creek.

Skip the trailer park hooch, by which I mean the jungle juice, or other fruity concoction recipe you get from the internet. These drinks treat your stomach like flesh eating bacteria, the last thing you want to do is use handy wipes to get the puke out of Candy from accounting’s hair. Cocktails are out, unless you are from the south in which case you will be arrested if ESPN, ABC, or any other affiliate catches you drinking on camera because Georgians/Floridians are more respectable then that. No, this requires a lighter touch, a more appropriate beverage… I’m talking BEER, and lots of it.

Choosing a beer to please the masses is like choosing a Pizza to please the masses, no one is going to love it, no one is going to hate it, but no one will turn a free one down. So choose wisely. Some colleges (ok, Penn State) do not allow kegs… which right off the bat takes your Ace out of the game. Kegs always produce the freshest, best tasting beer because they come in large quantities and are completely isolated from harmful light. That leaves bottles and cans. If you’ve ever been around a party with bottles you will quickly come to the conclusion that they are far more pain then the taste payoff. Garbage is 5 fold that of a keg or can get together and tripping over a “misplaced” can is far less detrimental then a bottle.

Narrowing the drink du jour down to canned beer, we must now look at which beer holds up best in cans. American light beers are like New England Patriots wide receivers, you can’t tell one from the other and they all serve their purpose. So which light beer holds up best in a can? Miller Lite.

When I first drank Miller Lite it was from a can, in fact for years I drank it from a can and never any other container. When I finally drank it from a keg I realized, that funny can taste wasn’t the can at all it was the beer itself, Miller Lite tastes the same no matter what form it comes in. It’s somewhat unique flavor separates it from the rest of the light beers which will all taste beer-canny *that’s a technical term. A couple 30 packs will be an inexpensive crowd pleaser.

One beer type will never satisfy your thirsty patrons. A second beer is needed to satisfy the professional beer drinkers and those people that come to the game that drink a couple, have some food and go on their merry way completely sober and happy. These guys need flavor. This next beer is like Notre Dame; it will be loved or hated, but with a lot of passion. Can’t miss canned beer #2: Yuengling Lager.

For those of you not living on the east coast I weep for you, lest you not taste the wondrous joy that is Yuengling Lager. This beer’s distinctive taste can not be ruined by aluminum’s harmful attributes. For beer aficionados, Yuengling (pronounced ying-gling), is an amber Lager with a very malty taste, an almost very light syrupy-sweet finish, and lightly hopped. Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery made in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and it’s beer from the Gods. If you live on the west coast or the south a good full bodied beer will be an adequate substitute. If you can spring for it, Guinness Draught in a can will make you a hero to those that like it. Just make sure you get Draught because the Extra Stout is loved only by those of us that like our beers thick and rich. Wikipedia describes it best:

Draught Guinness and its canned namesake contain nitrogen (N2) as well as carbon dioxide (CO2). Unlike carbon dioxide, nitrogen does not dissolve in water, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure is required to force the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic "surge" (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to the low acidity and the creaminess of the head caused by the nitrogen. "Original Extra Stout" tastes quite different; it contains only CO2, making a more acidic taste.


If you can’t afford Guinness then any domestic canned beer will do, pick your favorite in case there are leftovers. There you have it, the best way to quench your friends’ thirst without the fuss. You can thank us later.

An ancillary note on the light beer – regular beer misconceptions brought on by years of beer commercials. Light beer does not make a person’s bladder necessities any more frequent or severe then regular beer. The water percentage is somewhere around 3-4% less for regular beer which doesn’t amount to squat. The reason drinkers feel the urge to “break the seal” is because alcohol causes the body to stop retaining, and thereby flush all excess water. That’s the reason you have to hit the urinal 10 times a game and are completely parched at the end; your body voids itself of water.

This has been a public service announcement of The Nittany Line.

9 comments:

Mike said...

Excellent review. Our tailgating traditions haven't changed in a decade.

Beer of choice: Icehouse, Bud Light
Mixed Drinks: Captain and Coke

Last year we got a converter doohickie that lets you run household appliances off of a car battery. It has taken our tailgate to a whole new level. Now we set up a tv and the PS2 and have Madden tournaments before the game!

Galen said...

Oh crap, Mike how did I miss the PS2/Xbox at the game, what a great idea. We have an RV with a generator and a TV but never thought of that. I was going to chronicle the different Tailgating games to pass the time away in part III, but I may have to add that idea.

Run Up The Score said...

My group always brings a turkey fryer, which can also be used for all sorts of fried goodies. Potatoes, wings, turkeys, small kids, whatever. I grew up about 30 miles from the Yuengling brewery, so I've consumed more Lager than I care to admit. I got tired of it sometime during my junior year at PSU.

Okay, the Yuengling hierarchy goes like this:

Porter
Black and Tan
Premium
Premium Light
Lager
Chesterfield Ale
Light Lager

Miller Lite in a can is always a good choice. The "flavor" doesn't stick in your mouth quite like Lager. I didn't know Icehouse still existed until I saw 24 oz. cans of it in the ghetto liquor store across the street from me in Denver. 99 cents, by the way.

Cool Hand Mike said...

Yuengling Lager, oh you sweet nectar of life. A close second is Honey Brown.

BillyBob said...

If, like me, you lived in Stuart Hall you drank whatever the tailgaters brought for you. I considered it a fair trade for letting them throw-up in our showers, elevators and stairwells. Mmm, that Sunday morning smell in East Halls....

Did they ever secure the mens' dorms?

Galen said...

Billybob gets the TNL Pavlovian Response Award for his description of the day old Sunday morning smell in East Halls.

Blaaahh.

robert paulson said...

Nice article. Though I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Yuengling is distributed nationally and I believe it's the same cost as Bud and Miller. Down here in North Carolina it's $4.99 a sixpack at any grocery store.

Galen said...

robert paulson,

I do know that Yuengling can be found in North Carolina, and even as far south as Florida, but I'm not so sure about nation wide. I'm not sure if they can get it on the west coast the Yuengling brewery isn't a huge one, they intentionally stayed small. You might be right though, if so, good for the nation, I love the beer.

Run Up The Score said...

Well, I've been in Denver for three months, and I haven't seen a Yuengling yet. I *did* see Iron City Light, strangely enough. Just once, though.

We have Fat Tire out here, though. I like their beers better than Yuengling's.