Best NFL Playoff Party Recipes, by Team, Plus Expert Beer Picks

Photo credit: Getty Images (food); left to right: San Francisco 49ers; New England Patriots; Denver Broncos; Seattle Seahawks. Illustration: Jennifer Fox. 

So you’re plotting your playoffs party. (C’mon, you were really going to limit yourself to just a Super Bowl party? Live a little.)

You’ve picked out which Pats/Broncos/Seahawks/Niners gear to wear, and you know just which taunts you’re gonna use on your roommate when your team smokes his amateur-hour contenders.

Time to up your game. Throw a party that is not only festooned with your team colors, but also has the best signature dish from your home state. Better yet? Pair that sucker with a delicious beer from your part of the world.

We spoke to beer expert, friend, and Bengals fan Joshua M. Bernstein—“twenty-plus years of disappointment and counting,” he sighed—whose book The Complete Beer Course is an introduction to all styles of beers, and includes a chapter on food pairings.

Below, Bernstein pairs beer with one of each state’s most beloved dishes. In the event that you can’t locate your pretty city’s brew, he tells you the next best thing. So hit the liquor store, cook some grub, and enjoy having extra fodder for smackdowns.

New England Patriots: Clam Chowder

[Ed. note: No reason whatsoever that the Pats are leading off here; nothing to do with the author hailing from Boston—you know, Boston, home of the World Series Champions.]


Photo credit: Getty Images; New England Patriots. Illustration: Jennifer Fox. 

A true New England clam chowder is a creamy, buttery, simple thing of beauty. Bernstein reminds us of the classic oysters-and-stout pairing, which dates back to Victorian England. He says that a similarly terrific pairing for shellfish is porter, which is a bit “drier and roastier” than stout, making it “a good foil for the creamy chowder.” One of his favorites? Narragansett’s winter seasonal porter, a “deep black brew with a bouquet of coffee and milk chocolate.”

Denver Broncos: Green Chili


Photo credit: Getty Images; Denver Broncos. Illustration: Jennifer Fox. 

Denver Deputy Mayor Michael Hancock is so proud of his city’s famed green chili that he challenged San Diego mayor Todd Gloria to a bet involving the stuff last Sunday. (Gloria now has to pony up some Mexican food, since the Chargers lost). As different from clam chowder as night is from day, green chile is typically pork-based and plenty spicy thanks to tons of green chile peppers. Bernstein would pick an IPA, which tends to “accentuate spiciness,” mimicking the heat-packed dish. He loves the hoppy Titan IPA from Denver’s own Great Divide Brewing. (For extra credit, locate a couple cans of Patty’s Chile Beer, which is brewed using actual chiles and was founded by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper).

Seattle Seahawks: Fish Fry


Photo credit: Getty Images; Seattle Seahawks. Illustration: Jennifer Fox. 

The Pacific Northwest can’t be beat for fresh fish, but you probably don’t want to serve salmon tartare for your evening football game party. (And if you do, well—go, you!) Instead, fry up some fish. You can make this recipe in a Dutch oven, and serve it with a Pilsner. “Its effervescence cuts through the fatty richness,” says Bernstein. And there’s a new brewery in Bellingham called Chuckanut, 1.5 hours from Seattle, selling its Pilsner in bottles for the first time. “They’re some of the best classic European Pilsners around.”

San Francisco 49ers: Cioppino


Photo credit: Getty Images; San Francisco 49ers. Illustration: Jennifer Fox. 

“When I think of all these tomatoes” in San Francisco’s classic seafood dish, said Bernstein, “I think back to pizza and all the acidity.” Anchor Steam, which also goes well with a pie, ”is a classic food beer [that] just snuggles up so well to it.” The frothy brew is the rare one that defies strict categorization, as it’s halfway between an ale and a lager (a style called “California Common”). He also likes an effervescent saison, such as Sneak Attack, from 21st Amendment, to complement the wine in the dish.