Best Game-Day Beers

The best game-day beers are the ones you want to drink while watching the game. If you're going to spend it drinking midnight-black stout, fine. Super-hoppy IPA? No problem. But if you're hosting, think about stocking up on a wide variety.

Look for beers that beer geeks call "sessionable," those with a lowish alcohol content and a mellow flavor, so you can have a couple of them without exhausting your palate or your liver. What does that mean in practice? The usual stuff in a can is the obvious pick, but there's way more beyond the obvious.

Small-scale breweries are popping up all over the country, so take a look at what your local options are—odds are, your area has a specialty style of beer that deserves a seat at the table.

Crisp Pilsner and pale ale are a great pair for classic (rich, cheesy) game-day fare—they're bracing and refreshing, but not overwhelming. Wheat beer is a sweeter-tasting, more-filling option, and it's a good match for anything with cured meat or cold cuts.

Amber ale and red ale are maltier and almost-sweet, and they're a good match for spicy or Mexican-inspired food.

IPA (India pale ale), usually strong and hoppy, can go either way. It's a great food pairing, but all but the most- seasoned beer drinkers might find themselves one (or two) and done.

Hard cider, which is not beer, is sweet and delicious (and rapidly becoming more available all over the country). It's a nice thing to have on hand for the one non-beer (or non-gluten) fan who still might want a drink.

Stout is thick and creamy; it's a great match for chili, but it might be too rich for a whole day of grazing and drinking.

If you're doing an assortment, lay in 70 percent basic crowd-pleasers (Pilsner, pale ale, amber ale). Then tip your hat to your friends: a little IPA here, maybe some cider there, and some stout and macro lager for the rest. Don't stress too much about it, though. You'll need to save some energy for fist pumps and yelling at the TV.

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