Hippo Manchester
August 4, 2005

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The all-star beer-ball team

How to keep your bases, and self, tastefully loaded

By Mike Roy  beergasms@aol.com

What a weekend; the trading deadline passed and much to everyone’s applause Manny is still with the Nation. This got me to thinking about how one would build a “beer” ball team. Do you spend top dollar and buy a future hall of famer to can appreciate the complex flavors? Perhaps you’d rather purchase a journey man fringe player and hope that he can get the job done. It might even be that you’d like a balance of both.

Regardless of what you’re thinking, right now it’s all about me. So I began brainstorming about how I would fill my roster and to help out I stopped into North End Superette to see what Manchester had on hand for me to begin my draught ... um I mean draft.

Every team needs a Johnny Damon, a lead-off man, in this case (without all the hair) a beer that can start off the game for you with a bang. My choice is appropriately straight out of Cooperstown (literally!), Ommegang’s Hennepin. Much like starting off the evening with a champagne toast, this Belgian-style golden ale is effervescent with tantalizing notes of fruit and spice.

Once you’ve got a man on, you need to move him over, so that’s where a good contact hitter comes in handy. North Conway’s own Tuckerman Pale Ale will fit perfectly here. A good beer that knows its place, it’s not going to swing at bad pitches or go for the fences, it just looks for a chance to be a team player by giving you good malt character balanced by some assertive floral and spicy hops.

Of course what would your lineup be without a clean-up hitter? Nowhere of course! I’m sending Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale to the plate to knock them all home. This big dead guy has a huge malty character, subtly sweet with a flavor reminiscent of bread and biscuits.

Now every team needs a good bench if it’s going to be successful, so I looked long and hard for a good utility player. My choice is an American classic, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, as consistent and versatile as they come, able to be plugged into any hole in the lineup on a given night. This benchmark of pale ales has a crisp fruitiness and a pronounced spicy citrus character that always come to play.

We all know though, when it all comes down to it, pitching wins championships. A staff needs an ace, someone to shut down the competition, at times go the distance and lead the team to victory. Smuttynose IPA will be leading my rotation; it’s aggressive and not afraid to pitch inside with the hoppy heat.

In recent years we’ve seen more than ever how important it is to have a good setup man; if you can’t get to the 9th successfully then all is lost. Another key ingredient of a good setup man is that if you need to finish the game; they can answer the call.  Raison D’Etre from Dogfish Head will be serving this role with its sweet malty depth, warming alcohol, raisin-like fruit note and spice.

It’s time now to roll out the guns, and play “Imperial Death March” from Star Wars as this Vader-like presence makes its brisk calculated walk from the beer pen. Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles from the Montreal suburb of Chambly packs more muscle than Eric Gagne’s forearms. Its aroma takes you hostage with toasted bread, nuts, dark fruit and caramel. Its warming port wine-like alcohol character goes right by you like a 100 mph fastball and you’re caught looking.

Well that’s how I’m building my team. Have a different view? Email me then at beergasms@aol.com, I’d love to hear it.

Mike Roy is brew master at Milly’s Tavern at 500 Commercial St. The Beer Cellar will appear semi-monthly in the Hippo.