Good morning. Have you been enjoying Northwestern Week? I have. Take a peek at our previous articles:
Cocktail Party || Potluck I: A Rebuilt Offense? Nah, more Justin Jackson.
Coaches || Potluck II: Northwestern’s Dominant Defense Returns
Tradition! || Potluck III: Clutch Kickers || Hoegher’s Preview
With a manageable non-conference (vs. WMU, vs. Illinois State, vs. Duke), divisional road tests against Iowa and Minnesota, and a challenging crossover schedule (@OSU, @MSU, vs. Indiana), how’s Northwestern finishing up this year? What bowl game (if any)?
As for the beer scene in Chicago, it’s growing rapidly and can’t be done in a day, let alone a weekend. What local beer best sums up your football team, and/or if you could brew one beer that would sum up your team, what would it be?
MNW: For Northwestern, I’m going with Hopewell’s All Hope Kettle Sour. "All Hope" sums up so much of Northwestern fandom (especially in basketball), and usually you end the season with a sour taste in your mouth. If I could brew one, though, I’d go for something approaching Abita’s Triple Haze--a purple-colored raspberry beer with a tart finish.
On the season, though, I’m taking Northwestern to finish 7-5, shading toward 6-6. I don’t like playing with the fire that is WMU/Duke/Indiana, even at home, at fear we may finish 2-1 in those. I could easily see the ‘Cats fading to a quick 0-3 in conference, what with Nebraska, @Iowa, @Michigan State, and the other crossovers (@OSU, IU) are tough, all things considered. With Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue, I think Northwestern has to sweep those three games to put themselves in a decent position for the postseason. So much of this depends on how much the offense improves and the defense moves back to the average, though, so God only knows. Northwestern football! Like tasting a sour beer when you have no idea if the bacteria was any good!
Al NamiasIV: 7-5/ 8-4. Don’t see NU having the guns to beat the B1G East biggies, but Wisconsin @ Evanston--you know how that goes. That leaves @Iowa, @Minnesota and Nebraska as the swing games; they will be close and Northwestern could pull them off. However, I don't see NU doing better than 1-2 there.
GF: Northwestern, 8-4. Talent level high, but this is the big leagues, where close games come in batches against quality opponents.
Michigan beer is so fantastic that it got it’s own OTE article along with being the home of two of America’s "Beer Cities", Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Both Michigan and Michigan State are aiming to be the best of the best this year, "natty champ or bust" kinds of off-season dreams, so let’s say that Founders CBS Imperial Stout (the top-rated Michigan beer and a top 10 rated beer on Beer Advocate) will be a good beer to be compared to.
C4B: I’m calling a slight regression, to around 7-5 or so. Still enough to get into some bowl game (I hear Detroit’s always willing to take a chance), but definitely a step back.
Jesse: I hate to say it, but I could see Northwestern pulling a 10 win season off. I think it’s reasonable to expect them to sweep the three non-cons, I could reasonably expect them to have a good enough defense to shut down most of their Western brethren, and I could reasonably make an argument for them stealing one of the crossovers. That said, I think 8-4 is probably more reasonable in that the offense, while probably improving, still doesn’t strike fear into many hearts.
Oh man, if I can’t brew beer, but Salt Creek and Stadium can so I asked him.
Salt: For 2015, I'd probably go with a sour Berlinerweis that spent a little more time in the souring part than you'd like. On paper, a Berlinerweis should be a refreshing palette cleanser, but if you're not careful, the bacteria can spoil your beer.
For 2016, I'd go with some sort of Belgian ale, maybe a duppel or tripel. Beautiful, delicious beers if you pull them at the right time, you sometimes have to wait to get the right flavor. It can even take up to a year to brew, leaving one unsatisfied in 2016 and questioning how patient you are with that beer and whether or not you should just go ahead and brew something else.
Townie: I think 8 wins is the likely scenario, +/- a game or so. This year’s team isn’t going to be as good as last year (sorry gang). But the non-con looks winnable. It’s the Conference games and how you guys show up that will make your season 8 or 9 wins.
As for beer, Penn State should evoke dreams of fall...cool days, falling leaves, the smell of wood smoke in the air. And nothing matches that better than Troegs Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale. It’s an English style ale with a Pennsyltucky twist...and it evokes the best thoughts of Fall for me.
Ray: I can see 8-9 wins easily. Good core team. Good coaching. Rare stability. I could also see 5-6 wins because Northwesty just sometimes finds a way…
As for beer, you’d be remiss to think about Rutgers and beer and not think about the fabulous Flying Fish Brewing Company’s "Exit 9: Hoppy Scarlet Ale." The Exit Series overall is spectacular, and alumni Gene Muller’s Hoppy Scarlet Ale is no exception. It’s both an innovative flavor and a fresh take on a classic formula, just like the B1G/Hobbs/Ash Era that Rutgers is currently enjoying.
Aaron: Probably 7-5 and the Pinstripe Bowl. There are plenty of opponents on this year’s schedule that the Cats beat last year, but I have trouble seeing them get repeat victories unless the offense shows significant improvement. Specifically, it’s going to be tough to defeat Wisconsin and Nebraska again. Minnesota will also be a challenge, especially on the road.
A local beer that sums up Penn State? Well Brooklyn Pennant Ale ‘55 is local for me and it’s perfect for Penn State because the team is a bunch of bums.
WSR: 9-3, 2nd place in the B1G West.
And a beer that sums up Minnesota? That would probably be Grain Belt Nordeast. It’s not perfect in every situation, but when it works it’s utterly magnificent and awesome. When it doesn’t work, you question why you even bothered.
Stew: Worst case is 3-9, best case is 10-2, pretty damn wide margin there, which means I think there will be a lot of hard fought, close games. jNW has had a lot of feast and famine with close game luck under Fitzy; seems like they either win all the close games in a season, or lose all the close games in a season. Think this may be a good year for them, but not quite as lucky as last year, have them at 8-4 and headed to Nashville.
Now beer. I do happen to brew a bit of my own. I happen to have a beer in my secondary fermentor right now that is probably appropriate for Iowa’s season. Inspired, you might even say. IIt’s a very hop forward pale ale that’s a combination of some very floral flavored/scented hops with an addition of rose water, calling it A Bitter Rose. Because yeah, that did happen, even if after a historically successful regular season. There are also a plethora of local Iowa brews that are totally worth anyone’s time. Toppling Goliath, Lion Bridge, Big Grove, and Alluvial are all fantastic breweries. TG is my very favorite brewery, and my very favorite beer of theirs, Sosus, is a DIPA that is quite apt here. It’s big, bold, surprisingly complex, and very bitter.
Andrew K: 7-5 sounds about right. Maybe, like, the Foster Farms bowl or something in that bracket.
Lansing Brewing Company's Angry Mayor IPA is new enough on the scene and without sufficient following in the national media that it can properly be said to embody #disrespekt, and being made 3 miles from Spartan Stadium makes it a decent standard-bearer.
LPW: I think we’re going to go 9-3 at best, 7-5 at worst. I don’t see us defeating OSU, MSU, or Iowa. Damn, I really miss the days Iowa fans would get all worked up that they were losing to us. Especially the BHGP meltdown threads. We could lose to Nebraska or Wisconsin, but then again the latter game is in Evanston, so I believe the trend will stand.
Beer in Chicago: mmmmm.. I’ll take Revolution Brewing Daisy Cutter or Anti Hero. I’m always a big proponent of drinking stuff brewed locally. If you guys visit Lincoln Park, you can’t go wrong with anything at the Local Option right near DePaul. It’s one of, if not the best beer bars in the City along with Hopleaf in Andersonville or Map Room on the near west side. Tony and his staff at Local Option really know their beer, and I believe they’re brewing some of their own stuff in the bar. Also, there’s a sweet brewery out in the burbs, Miscatonic Brewing. Good stuff. Goose Island has ceased to be a small batch brewer, but you can’t go wrong with 312 or Honkers.
Alright, gang. The time is upon you. What say you: Will Northwestern return to its 10-win heights in 2016, or have a repeat collapse of 2013 and miss a bowl game? Something in between? Let us know in the poll and comments!