After slidingscrapes did his cocktail menu, I felt like we needed a little more work here to appreciate man's best friend: a good old beer. You see, cocktails are excellent and all, but at the end of a long day I always go for the beer. My favorite beers are stouts and IPAs, and I've had a number from all over the country. I collect bottles, and in my kitchen I have over 100 bottles of various microbrews that I've sampled over the last two years. I've had at least four bottles of most of them, so I can tell you how they taste. I'll confess that my main brews are from Michigan, and a few of the suggestions I make here will come from there.
Considering the OTE bar, slidingscrapes was right in that many things have already been done, but I felt it prudent to note that there's a difference between something being done before and something being done right. You see, the correct beers have to be assigned to the correct schools, something that can only done after years of thought and study. And so now I present to you all the culmination of those years of work: the Official OTE Beer List.
Illinois is quite famous in the engineering community. It is often hailed as the best public engineering school in the country after California-Berkeley and maybe Georgia Tech. I also happen to know that Nobel Laureate Paul Lauterbur, one of the early researchers in the field of magnetic resonance imaging, happened to teach there towards the end of his career. Illinois is an excellent academic institution.
However, most of us know Illinois as one of the most lame universities in the Big Ten, located in the middle of a corn field and devoid of any positive emotions related to sports. In that sense, we need a beer that is excellent, but relatively unknown. It can't be from a big microbrew, and it can't have a lot of ratings on the web sites. Yet, nonetheless, the flavor must be top notch. Greenbush Anger Black IPA is an excellent choice. Anger is a fitting name, since it likely reflects any Illinois fan's attitude towards their sports team. Yet the beer has a wonderful, deep flavor. It is so dark, some of the undertones border on that of a stout or a porter, yet its hoppy characteristics retain its status as an IPA. An excellent brew, even if few know about it.
Indiana University is a school with a beautiful campus in southern Indiana. It's considering up-and-coming, both academically and in sports. The football team looks like it might be the best it's been in years. A record number of graduates in the 2013 class avoided being a ditch digger for their first job out of college. Things have to be looking up if you're a Hoosier fan.
In that vein, we need a beer that's up-and-coming. Something moderately new, but that people who know these things have nonetheless been expecting to turn the corner for awhile. To you, I give Founders Rubaeus. Rubaeus is a wonderful raspberry beer, so sweet it's almost like juice. Nonetheless, it still retains some undertones that let you know it remains a beer. It's a quality selection, and appropriately red/crimson/somecolorlikethat, which helps it fit Indiana.
Iowa is a land grant university in Iowa. Like all Big Ten land grant universities, they have solid academics and they know a lot about corn. Or wheat. Or both. Who really gives a fuck? Their football team has been trending downward, but if you give them 30 minutes any Iowa fan will be able to convince you that this year will be a good year because of Kirk Ferentz. If you talk to the Iowa fan for another 30 minutes, he'll admit that he hates Ferentz and his huge contract and his archaic approach to football, so we need an expensive beer that we can both love and hate.
To you, Iowa, I give Bell's Kalamazoo Stout. Kalamazoo Stout is an excellent stout that carries a moderate price tag. I hate it because the last time I had it was after a gallon of sangria, some scotch, and a couple other Kalamazoo Stouts. Needless to say, it was a rough night.
Michigan is big. Michigan is tradition. Michigan is success. They're the leaders and the best. They get Budweiser. Budweiser is a really old beer that sells a lot that a lot of people swear by, but when you really get into it, it just tastes bad and lacks substance.
Michigan State is a land grant university in Michigan. Like all Big Ten land grant universities, they have solid academics and they know a lot about corn. Or wheat. Or apples. Or all of them. Who really gives a fuck? Their football team is dangerous. They can lure you in, fill you head with dreams of grandeur, then fall on their face in a pile of "Sparty NO!" and leave you hanging. Just like their women.
Some Spartans will think the whole thing is a scam, a set-up, a conspiracy. Conspiracies are things done by spy organizations, and spy organizations do stuff with nuclear submarines. So we'll give them New Belgium Red Hoptober. Red Hoptober is quite possibly the best amber I've ever had. The hops give it a nice profile, and despite being an amber it doesn't leave you hanging for flavor. And it's part of a secret government project to brainwash the populace.
Minnesota is up in the north, and I hear it gets cold there. That means Minnesota is a tough place for tough men. Makes you wonder where they got the guys on their football team. Nonetheless, when you think of something tough, the only thing that will do is a stout. The word stout means tough, or something like it, or maybe not. Regardless, these guys get Rogue Chocolate Stout. Chocolate Stout is an excellent offering from Rogue, one of the country's premier microbrews. It's a stout, so it seems tough, but that chocolate underneath betrays it as not as tough as it seems, just like the Minnesota football team.
Nebraska is a land grant university in Nebraska. Like all Big Ten land grant universities, they have solid academics and they know a lot about corn. Or wheat. Or both. Who gives a fuck? Nebraska's a program steeped in tradition that has made a few drastic changes in recent years. They flipped from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. They flipped from being good at defense to being good at offense. They flipped from the AAU to the not-AAU. What do we do with such an institution?
It's difficult to deal with something that doesn't know what it wants to be. So I'll just give up and give them an Odd Side Ales Mayan Mocha Stout. Mayan Mocha Stout starts out normal as a mocha stout. Chocolate and coffee are standard flavors in a stout, and this one does both of those well. Then, it ends with a habanero flavor. Er, what? Still tastes good, but... what?
Northwestern is an excellent school. Cultured, distinguished. Much like the school, Northwestern's football team runs one of the most advanced offenses in the Big Ten. I really wish Purdue or Michigan would do the same thing, but alas. So we need a beer that's cultured, distinguished. An import with flavors.
Unibroue La Fin du Monde sounds precisely prickish enough to fit the subtle needs of the Northwestern fan. It's an Abbey Tripel, a style popularized by Belgian monks. Tripels and other Belgian beers are among the most complex-flavored beers in the world. An array of fruit flavors will grace your delicate taste buds, all surrounded by delicious alcohol. Don't for a minute think it's light, though. La Fin du Monde is 9% ABV.
Ohio State is big. Ohio State is tradition. Ohio State is success, more so than Michigan. Get fucked, Ohio State. You get Bud Light. Bud Light is a beer that sells that a lot of people swear by. It's newer than Budweiser and gets more sales, but at the end of the day it just tastes bad and lacks substance.
Oh, Penn State. What do I do with you? Your football program has fallen on hard times, but craft brewing is on the up-and-up. It's really hard to find a beer that used to be good but is no longer good anymore. Perhaps we'll have to choose a beer that used to be considered king of the craft beer world, but is now on a status approaching that of a macrobrew.
In this aspect, Samuel Adams Boston Lager works. Back in the day before the end of football in 2008 and even before the start of football in 1997, Boston Lager was king of the craft brew world. It was that weird, not-so-widely-available brew that you went to for a much bolder flavor. To the modern craft brew drinker, Boston Lager almost seems light. Now, we shouldn't be too hard on the beer. Its style is a Vienna Lager, and they're not supposed to be heavy on flavor. Still, with so much competition on the scene, Boston Lager doesn't seem like the exclusive jewel it once was.
Ah yes, the Big Ten's premier institution. They may not be first in academics. They may not be first in athletics. However, no one can doubt that they are the best. Purdue's superiority over their neighboring Big Ten schools is so severe that they deliberately hamstring the football team to make other Big Ten schools feel better about themselves. Other schools' fans shudder in inferiority to the extent that they suppose that Purdue does not exist to cope with their own self-esteem issues. Such is the burden of Purdue.
Of course, Purdue's excellence can only be graced with a most excellent beer. It must be related to a Boilermaker, a whiskey/beer combo drink that slidingscrapes mentioned earlier. However, we will not actually choose a Boilermaker. Instead we will choose a bourbon barrel aged beer. Bourbon barrel aged beers, particularly stouts, are legendary in craft beer circles. They dominate the ratings, and their prices usually match the ratings (unfortunately). Nonetheless, for a school of Purdue's stature, we can do no less. The best beer I've ever had is Hair of the Dog Matt. Matt is a strong ale, and boy does it pack a punch at 12.5% ABV. It has a wonderfully complex flavor of fruit, hops, and malt, and it's all topped off with a near-perfect addition of bourbon flavor. And its price is ridiculous.
Wisconsin is kind of like Minnesota, except they actually kind of win football games. They're big, strong, and successful. Their academics are premier, and among ratings coming out of the research world they're actually tops in the Big Ten. However, at the moment of victory, they never seem to be able to quite pull it off. As a result, I give Wisconsin Rogue Rose Festival Ale. The reason should be obvious.
And that's it. Hope you all enjoyed it. Feel free to share your own favorite beers.
Disclaimer: I for realz think Indiana is a good school and doubt that anyone that graduates from there works as a ditch digger. I also think ditch diggers are wonderful people.