Any Super Bowl party has a few things in common: wings, chips and salsa, at least one person wholly uninterested in the game of football, and of course, alcohol. Next to New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday is the nation’s biggest day for alcohol consumption.
What better day, then, to pop open a bottle of Stony Brook Red.
That’s right, Seawolves, Stony Brook has its own beer. Sort of. It’s actually brewed by Sam Adams, the Boston-based brewery known more for its seasonals and signature lager. And before anyone starts sounding the alarm (remember the last time a beer company tried to partner with universities?), Sam Adams representatives were quick to point out that their product is in no way associated with Stony Brook University.
Sam Adams’ brewery is located in southwest Boston, a short ride on the T from downtown. The station nearest to Sam Adams headquarters? “Stony Brook.” As a representative from Sam Adams parent company the Boston Beer Company explained, Stony Brook the brew is named for its location.
As for the “Red,” the beer itself is actually a deep shade of red, inspired, we were told, by Belgian Reds, a European beer characterized by its sour, fruity tartness.
Not knowing the first thing about what distinguishes a Natty Ice from a $10-a-bottle “Barrel Room Collection” brew like Stony Brook Red, we turned to the experts at Beer Advocate, Fermentedly Challenged, and Beeriety, three websites devoted to reviewing worldly beers, to explain to us what sets our adopted beer apart.
“The bold, hearty, and extremely complex notes help accentuate the tart sourness without making it overwhelming,” writes Dan Barron, a contributor to Beeriety. “This beer is easily on my top 10 list of great beers.”
“This was the type of beer that I really ‘dug’ right from the start,” added Dave Butler from FermentedlyChallenged.com. “It wasn’t as sour as many sour beers I’ve tried but just sour enough to notice. The alcohol was there but was not overpowering.”
Michael Thorpe at Beer Advocate was a fan as well. “This is much better than I expected, to say the least,” he wrote. Thorpe gave Stony Brook Red a B rating, an above average mark on the site. Beeriety chose Stony Brook Red as their Beer of the Week this week and labeled it a “Must Buy,” while Fermentedly Challenged awarded it a B+/A-.
Those are far higher grades than Thinkers were doling out when we popped open a bottle of Stony Brook Red in the office before the winter break. Of the dozen or so editors and writers who tried a sip, nobody was impressed by the taste.
When asked to summarize their experience of Stony Brook Red in three words, none were too flattering. Campus and Long Island News Editor Doug Newman, for instance: “salty, alcoholic, revolting.” Or Copy Editor T Geckle: “barely even potable.”
It’s definitely not a traditional beer in the sense that it doesn’t taste like anything you’d find on tap at The Bench. Perhaps our young taste buds have not evolved enough to appreciate what Sam Adams describes as “the rich, malty brew [that] combines notes of tart fruit from the yeast with a toasty oak character from the barrel aging. The long dry finish is almost wine-like.”
Or maybe the crap we find at parties in West or use for rounds of beer pong has weaned us off of truly great beer. Either way, Stony Brook Red is not going to find its way into local vendors any time soon. Stony Brook Red is not mass-produced, meaning the only place to pick up a bottle is at the Sam Adams brewery or local vendors around Boston. And Massachusetts state law prohibits the shipping of alcohol into and out of the state.
But we’ll be giving Stony Brook Red another try tomorrow, alongside the usual cadre of Super Bowl Sunday traditions. It’s only right that Stony Brook students drink Stony Brook beer on the biggest drinking day of the year.