What's On Tap: Special Draft Edition

In the past the Huddle has gone out of their way to educate the fantasy football masses on some fabulous brews that they may want to seek out and enjoy to whet their whistle during the long Sundays spent staring at their televisions. I mean, what could possibly be better than sitting down to watch your finely crafted team thoroughly dominate the competition on Sunday afternoon while indulging in your favorite finely crafted ales and lagers? Now, I’m not saying that drinking a fine pinot or some high end whiskey while watching the game is disallowed, heck in fact I encourage you to find whichever delicious beverage(s) makes your game day experience that much more memorable and enjoyable – I may even detail some of the finer points of some great football pairing wines and spirits as the season goes on.

Before I start breaking down this week’s craft playbook, here’s a little information about me, your draft beer tour guide for this season. I worked for fifteen years at the country’s oldest and most successful Brew-on-Premises operation in a role akin to a cellarman. My daily duties included sampling every single batch of beer that was produced by our facility. Over my career I have sampled over 25,000 batches of beer. In 2010, I retired from this dream job to start my own business, and I didn’t stray far from the craft industry, as I opened my own draft beer maintenance company. My average day entails awaking (most likely before you) and driving from bar-to-bar throughout the Twin Cities metro area cleaning and sanitizing their tap systems and providing minor maintenance to ensure that their tap beer is pouring and tasting exactly as the brewer intended. Of course, since I am at these bars I taste some of this beer to ensure that I am doing my job well. I have after all one of the only jobs in the world where drinking is not only allowed…it is mandatory.

During the regular season we will identify a beer each week that you may want to add as a Free Agent to your fridge, or that you may wish to stash away as a keeper in your cellar for dynasty purposes in the future. In addition I also hope to give you a little insight and strategy to help you win at fantasy football for that week. If you tune back in here from week to week you will see the fantasy landscape of this week’s slate of games through the beer goggles of a guy who has been playing fantasy football for over 25 years and drinking the finest blends of malt and hops just as long.

Since the season doesn’t start for nearly a month, this week I’m going to craft for you a roster of fabulous brews that you should serve at your fantasy football draft party (and yes you should have one). It doesn’t matter if you gather the crew together and go to a bar or restaurant or if everyone crowds into someone’s parents’ basement. This is draft day! This is the single greatest day of the entire year! I lived in California for a few years and actually flew back to Minnesota every year just for fantasy football drafts (and the state fair). You may not see these guys every day at the office or wherever your league originates from, but if there is any chance that you can turn the draft into a face to face interaction (and I don’t mean just video conferencing) than for all that is good in the world do it!

Now I can only partially control the beer selection at bars and restaurants; so this article is going to be more about what type of beer you, as the host, should provide for the draft, as well as what types of beer you, as the guests, should bring to the soiree to consume. Remember, you want to make this night one that your league will be talking about for the rest of the year and to make them even more excited for the sequel next year.

The American Pilsners
(Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, etc.)

No matter how educated your league’s palate is there will inevitably be some owners who will not drink anything darker than Coors. As a host provide some of this cheap swill for the guests to consume. It will serve several purposes including keeping more of the good stuff for the guests who will truly enjoy it, as well as providing a good option for the craftier types to use as a sobering up option at the end of the draft. The “American Pilsner” drinker will probably spend more time in the restroom than concentrating on his draft board, so they will probably be less likely to stay abreast of mid round steals. If you can keep better track of who’s still available and how much teams have left to spend while these owners use their break time at the urinal trough, you’ll be a step ahead of them.

The “Hipster” Adjunct Lagers
(Grain Belt, High Life, PBR, etc.)

If there are any trendy funky hip cool cats in your league there is little doubt that they will show up with a cooler full of tallboys to share. These are some of the best options for introducing the Miller Lite crowd to a real beer featuring a larger barley malt bill. Plus the cans look cool and hopefully having cold beverages in their hands (in addition to their draft guides and magazines) will keep these guys busy and away from the juke box at the bar or from getting suckered in by the karaoke host. These owners like the hottest new fads and will buy up all the “sleepers that everyone knows about” at prices or at draft slots higher than they are worth. Let them spend $30 on Lamar Miller and use a second round pick on David Wilson, while you get Steven Jackson for $20 or Frank Gore late in round three.

The “Real” Pilsners
(Victory Prima Pils, North Coast Scrimshaw, Summit Grand Pilsner, etc.)

If you really want to scare the “King of Beers” crowd with a straw colored beer that is actually loaded with flavor, may I recommend a great local brew called Surly Hell. For the truly discerning, a beer doesn’t have to be black as night to be utterly enjoyable – in fact many of my favorites fall into the Pilsner or Helles category. These drinkers will show up with all their tools ready to go: laptops, multiple smartphones, every different magazine, cheat sheets from all the web sites as well as their homemade ones, and every other piece of vital data available. Of course, as the night goes on they will lose track of what’s where, and they will end up making some crucial oversights – take advantage when they do.

The Pale Ales
(Sierra Nevada, Summit EPA, Full Sail, Bells 2Hearted, etc.)

With the increasing popularity of heavy-hopped beers such as American and India Pale Ales as well as the many subcategories of each of these styles. There will undoubtedly be a few folks at your draft that are hopheads. Appease their love of all things piney, citrusy, and floral by providing a few pale ales. With the potential higher ABV these owners will pace themselves a little better allowing for more thorough enjoyment of their product. They will also be more likely to bring some good grub to pair with it and/or to shell out some bucks for apps or tapas at the bar. Make sure you position yourself near them in your draft room to gain the best spot for mooching food.

The Dark Side
(all your stouts, brown ales, porters, imperial stouts, barley wines, etc.)

I’d probably recommend straying away from the larger imperial stouts and barley wines unless you want to provide sleeping accommodations for your league mates, but there are plenty of beautiful brown ales, scotch ales, stouts, and porters that have a smaller ABV than might be imagined. By having a few “quality” dark beers around you’re telling your league mates that you are a quality guy willing to share some of your good stuff with them. Make sure to remind them of your goodwill when the time comes to make that two-for-one deal to acquire his RB1 for your RB2 & WR4.

Of course, if you are hosting make sure that you encourage the rest of the teams to bring something to share (either more beer or something to nosh on). Inevitably a lot of this extra beer goes unclaimed at the end of the night in your refrigerator furthering your stash.

Well that’ll do it for this week make sure you stop on by next week when I detail some of my breakout player candidates for this year as well as some of my sleeper beers to break out of the fridge at the local liquor store.