Tailgating: local beer & not-so-local chili

This is my favorite time of year & football season is a big reason I love it so much. The community comes together to celebrate the season and root for their team… with beer & food in hand, of course. I talked a little bit about this topic on television this week. Follow this link to see what the ladies of eightWest thought about the beer & food I shared!

Over the last couple of years, local craft beer has become easier to take with you to your favorite tailgate party. If you’re just hanging out with some friends to watch the game at home, you can you stop by your favorite brewery the night before a game and fill up a growler. And now many breweries are offering howler fills — which are 1/2 the size of a growler, but allow you to try a couple different beers instead of deciding on one in a growler.


There are some breweries that make their own root beer. My kids LOVE root beer, so having a special root beer on hand in a howler for the kids makes them happy. Happy kids = happy Momma.

If you’re lucky enough to attend a game on a campus & wish to tailgate before, you can find many local craft beer in cans now. And if you’re tailgating in a parking lot somewhere outside of a stadium, cans are the way to go. Easy to throw into a smaller cooler, and they won’t break, like bottles can in my klutzy hands. I like having a variety of options as well.

Typically, tailgating begins at 8am, and not everyone is ready to drink a beer, so I like having some VanderMill cider on hand. Then you can move onto something like a Brewery Vivant Farmhand or a Founders All-Day IPA.

If you’re looking to drink something light on game day, but have the concern that craft beer may be heavy or too high in alcohol, Farmhand & All-Day IPA have under 140 calories and less than 5% alcohol. They aren’t watered down & don’t skimp on flavor. In other words, you won’t be running to the porta-john every 5 minutes.

Something else that’s fun about tailgating is the FOOD, and being a Spartan, I enjoy making a batch of my Mean Green Chili to warm fellow football loving-bellies. The batch I made for eightWest is made with Founders Inspired Artist Black IPA, but you can use any beer you like. Better taste the beer first to be sure.

This chili takes some time to make, but it is so simple. The pork can be slow-roasted with the peppers, onions, garlic & tomatillos overnight & the pork will be falling apart in the morning (keep roasting it until it does!). Then you add in your favorite beer & stock, a little cilantro & masa harina (mexican corn-flour) to thicken it up, and toss in some black beans before you serve it in a crock pot — super easy to take to any tailgate party, on or off campus.

My Mean Green Chili is spicy, which can be a nice belly-warmer on a chilly autumn morning, but I serve this with spice-absorbing tortillas, sour cream, limes… and a good Michigan beer. CHEERS!!


Momma’s Mean Green Chili 
3-4 lbs pork shoulder (5-6 lbs if selecting a bone-in cut of meat)
15 whole tomatillos, husked
2 Serrano peppers
3 Poblano peppers
4 Jalapeño peppers
2 Onions, quartered
8-10 Garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups black beans
1 bay leaf
4 limes, halved
1 big bunch fresh cilantro
1 bottle of your favorite beer <– porter, ale, stout, IPA; if you would drink it, add it! Might need to “taste” the beerbefore adding to be sure. 
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup masa harina (or sub 2 Tsp corn starch disolved in cold water)
3 Tbs Cumin
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chili Powder to taste

*Optional Garnish*
Tortilla chips
Crumbled queso fresco
Sour Cream
Cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 275˚ Season pork shoulder liberally with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.
Add pork & vegetables to a large roasting pan, spreading out tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic and bay leaf around the pork shoulder.
Zest 1 lime, squeeze remaining limes, drizzle olive oil and season everything in the pan with salt & pepper.
Cover the whole pan with aluminum foil and roast in the oven until the internal temp of the pork reaches 195˚ or until the pork is falling apart (usually 6-ish hrs — I recommend using a probe thermometer & if it doesn’t easily shred, put it back in the oven until it does).
Remove from oven, carefully set the pork aside and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes before pulling the pork apart with 2 forks.
Rake roasted ingredients into a food processor with a bunch of fresh cilantro and process until desired consistency.
Pour into a large stockpot or dutch-oven.
Set over medium heat, add beer & chicken stock.
Bring to a low boil and whisk in masa harina (or corn starch) to thicken the sauce up.
Fold in shredded pork shoulder and season with salt and pepper and extra cumin if desired.
Add beans 30 minutes before serving.

*Note, this chili is best after being cooled overnight (or longer) and served warmed on the stovetop or in a crockpot 2-3 days after initial cooking. The intense, initial spiciness does mellow out if you wait a day or two.

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    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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