MnB B1G Preview: Ranking Leaders Division Beers

July 26, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke speaks during the Big Ten media day at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

To prepare for the upcoming football season, I've attempted to scope out the local beer scene from each school. I've picked out my favorite beer from each college town, and judging them was incredibly enjoyable. If you're from one of these areas or a fan of the teams, feel free to take exception and suggest in the comments or whatever.

The Beers

6. Penn State - Otto's Apricot Wheat

I like this beer a lot. I actually like all the beers on the list. Like the upcoming Illinois pick, it's fruity - something I didn't think I'd like a whole lot. My buddies in State College, though, say Otto's is the way to go, and it was hot this summer, so I got their wheat, and totally did not expect the apricotness. It's delicious. Well-balanced wheat beer, not to sweet - got a bit of nutmeg in it and just enough of a hint of apricot. I also can't say enough good things about Otto's - definitely going there on gameday next time Michigan swings by Happy Valley.

5. Ohio State - Schmidt's Sausage Haus Kolsch

This one was a bit tougher. My folks live in Columbus, and I've made it a point to try a lot of local brews, even venturing onto campus to check some out. Columbus has some great Irish pubs, and even student bars with the requisite picture menus. But for my money, if I'm not going to the Thurman Cafe for a Jason Burger, I'm going to Schmidt's in German Village. I was not a kolsch fan until I tried theirs. It's light, hoppy, and the right balance of sweet and bitter. It's also great with four our five of their all-you-can-eat brats and a delicious cream puff. Do it.

4. Indiana - Bloomington Brewing Company Nut Hugger Brown Ale

Fortunately, a couple high school friends went to IU and generously pointed me in the right direction with BBC. I tried a couple of their beers, but as everyone knows, I love brown ales, and nut browns in particular are my very favorite. I was expecting good things from a Midwestern nut brown, because Short's Good Humans might be my favorite beer ever. i was definitely not disappointed. The Nut Hugger has a lot going for it - it's kind of like a walnut-infused Newcastle. It's slightly darker, with a bit more of a coffee tone than your regular brown, but it was nice and sweet. Might actually be my favorite beer on this list, but on second thought, the uniqueness of the next three beers puts them over the top.

3. Illinois - DESTIHL Brewery Strawberry Blonde Ale

We're now in the upper echelons of the Legends Division, so it's totally strange that we're talking about Illinois, right? While most of the beer scene focuses around Chicago, DESTIHL has built a nice little racket down in Champaign. It was about a hundred degrees out when I ordered a beer, and I'm dating a blonde, and I like strawberries. I was really disappointed with the Abita Strawberry, which tasted like seltzer water, but this is a totally different ballgame. It's more like the UFO Raspberry Hef, which I liked, but this is much more filtered and refined. It actually has a nice wheat taste, which I did not expect at all. The strawberry is not overwhelming at all, so get it through September.

2. Wisconsin - Ale Asylum Satisfaction Jacksin

Excellent name? Check. Satisfying taste? Check. From Wisconsin, land of beer and honey? Check. Wisconsin purists are going to hate me for not ranking them #1, but grad-year transfers only get you so far. But this beer, man. It's almost like Wisconsin people have nothing to do besides brew and drink beer. Let's see. This beer is a dark amber ale with a satisfying citrusy finish. I really can't explain how complex it is, but I had three of them and didn't even realize it. It's incredibly drinkable. I'm going back to Ale Asylum.

1. Purdue - Lafayette Brewing Company Piper's Pride

This one takes the cake. Purdue has to have good beer, because the weather in West Lafayette necessitates fine brews. Piper's Pride is a Scotch ale, a darker take on an amber. It's got a smooth chocolatey finish, but it's not quite opaque. It's almost creamy. It's more simple than the Jacksin, but in this case, less is more. It's got a big aftertaste that isn't hoppy - it's just big. I had it with a burger, which was perfect, but I could see some vanilla ice cream cutting it nicely. For those of you who like beer floats, this could be a great mixer.

There you have it. We'll see soon how the Leaders Division shakes out, and soon we'll have a B1G Championship of beer. Recs? Criticisms? Hit us up in the comments.

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