Over here in Seattle, the city is practically dyed blue and green – the Seahawks are headed back to the Super Bowl! Gearing up for Sunday’s game, wide swaths of the region and nation alike are busy planning Super Bowl parties and menus.
On the drinks side, 12-themed beers, wines and spirits have surfaced from producers across western Washington (with a surprise nod also coming from Sixpoint Brewery in New York), and all make welcome additions whether you’re hosting a party yourself or bringing something to share. Check out the following:
- Hilliard’s The 12th Can: The first brewery to answer local sports radio station KQR 950’s call for a beer dedicated to hardworking 12s, Seattle’s Hilliard’s launched their 12th Can before the start of last year’s Super Bowl-winning season and ended up producing about 12,000 cases of the pale ale in that season alone – nearly eight times as much as they expected to brew. This year, they brought the can back with a bet that the Hawks would go all the way again. They also noted that the brew “pairs well with victory.”
- Dick’s Brewing Company 12 Man Pale Ale: Another pale ale brewed “for the fan,” Dick’s Brewing Company’s 12 Man American Pale Ale is a popular local choice in pitchers and cans alike thanks to a low price point and widespread availability from September through February.
- Sixpoint Brewery Beast Mode Porter: Across the country, on the outskirts of Patriots territory in Brooklyn, New York, Sixpoint has brewed a nod to the Northwest in its Beast Mode Porter, a dark, rich, complex and powerful take on the style.
- Northwest Cellars Adagio and Serenade: Paying tribute to the pair of small earthquakes caused by stomping, cheering Seahawks fans during playoff games against the New Orleans Saints in 2011 and 2014, Northwest Cellars‘ fan labels include the quakes’ actual seismographic readings. The 2013 Adagio is comprised of Sauvignon Blanc balanced by Chardonnay, while the 2012 Serenade is largely made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. (Take advantage of this handy Super Bowl food and wine pairing tool to see what both the white and red will accompany best!)
- White River Distillers 12 Whiskey, Gin and Vodka: Enumclaw’s White River Distillers offers a 12-themed rye whiskey and vodka of their own, and added a gin to the lineup as well. “Created by 12s for 12s,” the labels feature blue and green reflections of the Seattle skyline.
- Heritage Distilling Company Batch No. 12 Bourbon, Rye and Vodka: Heritage’s Batch No. 12 line includes bourbon, rye and vodka. Both of the whiskeys (a fan can’t help but notice) are bottled at 92 proof – 12 above average.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the Skittles. Cheers to Super Bowl XLIX!
A lot of food holidays are arbitrary. (You just missed National Pizza With the Works Except Anchovies Day, for instance.) But National Apple Cider Day comes with a folkloric history.
According to legend, on November 18, 1307, William (Wilhelm) Tell and his son Walter were passing through the town square in the Swiss Alpine village of Altdorf. At the center of the square stood a pole, upon which the town bailiff, Gessler, had placed his hat. The hat stood for the imperial Austrian authority, under whose rule Switzerland was subjugated, and which Gessler represented. All who passed before the hat were to bow, upon penalty of death.
As can be expected with this type of legend, William Tell refused to bow. Gessler ordered Tell’s immediate arrest. Seeking to make an example of the dissident, Gessler then posed Tell, who was a known marksman, a simple challenge: shoot an apple from his son’s head, and both would be allowed to walk free. Miss, and both would die.
Tell took two arrows from the selection offered, and took aim at the apple atop Walter’s head. He shot cleanly through it. Tell was then asked what he had taken an additional arrow for, and he replied that had his son been harmed, it would have been for Gessler. At this second act of treason, Gessler refused to release Tell. Instead, he had him bound, and Gessler himself set off with Tell to bring him to jail in Kussnacht.
Had there not been a storm in sailing to Kussnacht, Apple Cider Day still might not have a backstory. Instead, a storm blew up on Lake Lucerne, and the crew released Tell, who was capable of steering the boat to shore. Tell leapt to shore himself, pushed the boat with Gessler and his crew back out onto the wind-whipped lake, and set off to Kussnacht. There, he awaited Gessler’s party, and as they approached in pursuit he shot Gessler through the heart. As the story goes, the act would spark a series of events that would lead to the Swiss revolution.
True or not, eight hundred years later people across the globe commemorate the folkloric incident by sipping cider on the same day.
Statue of William and Walter Tell in the town square in Altdorf, Switzerland.
Apple cider itself is more tightly bound up in American revolutionary history than in Swiss. It was a de facto national drink of choice around the time of the revolution, which circumvented colonial dependence on Old World imports like wine and tea. Another folk hero, Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), is to thank for taking seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and planting the early states’ western frontiers with apple trees, paving the way for American expansionism. As pioneers moved west, hardy fruit awaited them. The apples were used not to eat (cider apples are extremely bitter, often to the point of inedibility) but to make cider, a safe alternative to water that likely helped many colonists, including children, survive.
Cider apples in Sister Bay, Wis.
Today, the joys of apple cider are being rediscovered. The fruit is so genetically diverse that the seed of any given apple will grow to produce a fruit entirely unique from its predecessor, meaning there is no shortage of apple varieties to be explored. Meanwhile, traditional American cider apples, used in colonial times and reproduced over the years by grafting, are resurfacing along with a cider culture that has begun to truly recover for the first time since Prohibition. Cider bars, cider festivals, cider pairings and cider cocktails – even cider mimosas – are all trending at breakneck speed.
Thanks to its renaissance, November 18 is certainly a day to celebrate.
Sources: Swiss Info, The Smithsonian, Ken B Travels, Sister Bay, The Boys Club and Cidercraft Magazine.