I did manage to catch the last quarter and a half of the Super Bowl. I drove up to far northern NJ Sunday evening to meet Ron "I Love Dusty Brewing Archives" Pattinson, who was in the country for work. His real work, that is. Where's the man find the time?
I'd loaded the entire Beermapping.com database into Minerva (my Garmin GPS), and I was checking as I approached Ron's hotel. So when he walked into the lobby, and we shook hands and exclaimed over finding each other, I got right to business. "Don't know where you want to go, but Defiant Brewing is only about four miles away, and they're open for about an hour yet." Yes, he said (well, what else was he going to say?), and away we went.
I'd never been in Pearl River in the dark before, and I was a bit disoriented, but Minerva found the place. Neill Acer wasn't there -- hell, the man's gotta have a life, right? -- but the woman behind the bar took good care of us, tapping beers right off the tanks with those neat little clip-on taps Neill found. I had a Highland Stout (good, more body than I expected), a Little Thumper (nice, malty, a bit sweet), and a Muddy Creek Lager (darker and hoppier than expected, also good). 10 oz. mugs, so I was okay.
She was very good about letting us continue right up till closing time, cleaning around us, but we had to go. I aimed us for Andy's Corner Bar in Bogota, and Minerva whirled us there. We chatted about beer styles and beer writers (why can't they be bothered to do any research, Ron asked), and about Ron's history with the area -- he lived in NYC in the 1980s -- but when we got there, and crunched up the frosty sidewalk...Andy's is apparently closed on Sundays, which I didn't know. Damn.
I was going to head back to the hotel, figured we'd drink some of the bourbon I'd brought for Ron (he returned the favor with a a nice bottle of genever and a sweet little bottle of korenwijn), but then I remembered a place I'd come across when writing the New Jersey book, the Railroad Cafe in East Rutherford. It was old and a bit battered, and quite comfortable, and not far, so we went.
Surprisingly empty for Super Bowl night, but open! We grabbed space at the bar, I got a Guinness, and talked Ron into a Railbender -- I was surprised to find Erie Brewing's flagship at a bar in East Rutherford, but it was sufficiently different that I thought he'd like it. And he did, smacking his lips.
And...the game was on. The score was 20-7, Pittsburgh, which was just about exactly where I thought it would be: I was banking on Pittsburgh's defense, but didn't think their offense would explode. Then, of course, things quickly went into the crapper as Kurt Warner and the Arizona defense combined to completely upset the applecart. I think Ron was amused as I kept apologizing for focusing on the game, but I was completely wrapped up, and woo-hooed quite a a bit when Holmes pulled in that amazing toe-dragger to win the game.
That's when we found out that the fellow next to us wasn't just a fellow Brit ex-pat, he was a partner in Erie Brewing (or said he was, anyway: you never know in a bar), and was drinking a bottle of Presque Isle. He bought Ron a couple more Railbenders (I was on Diet Coke by this time), and we talked till 10:30. At which point...I had to call time. I'd been up since 5 AM, and still had a 100 minute drive home. So I took Ron back to the hotel, wished him a fond farewell -- he's really a hell of a nice, entertaining guy -- and drove home. I had the windows open, singing loudly by the time I got there to stay awake, but I made it. Nice to meet you, Ron!