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MnB B1G Preview: Ranking Legends 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
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. Today we're looking at the Legends Division, and I promise I'm going to be a total homer.

The Beers

6. Michigan State - Anheuser Brewing Company's Natural Light

Delivered with very little comment. Obviously beloved in East Lansing, this is what you get when you walk into a bar and ask for their finest ale. Try it, any bar. They love this stuff up there. Apparently Spartan fans are baptized in it due to its resemblance to water. If you want a good beer, I like Harper's Belgian Whit, but the atmosphere is entirely out-of-towners who got lost.

5. Iowa - Old Capitol Brew Works/Public House's Redband Stout (website unavailable)

Cold nights at Kinnick deserve a good stout, and the Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House is a good place to start. Sadly, their beer is now brewed offsite in Davenport, a good schlep outside of town, but it's local enough for Iowa. This stout is everything I like in a stout. Apparently they actually cold-press coffee beans from a local shop directly into the mix, which is pretty awesome - standard for a coffee stout, but I like that it's as local as possible. The beer has character, and a few of these guys (also available in cans, which is how I tried it) will prepare your soul for the craziness that is a night game at Kinnick in late October. I'd love to see the B1G championship there...

4. Northwestern - Goose Island Harvest Ale Half Acre Brewing Company's Gossamer Ale

I was totally going for Goose Island. I love the Harvest Ale. But then I found Half Acre, which I hadn't tried before, and is on the Northside, so it's perfect. The Gossamer is a plain and simple Golden Ale, one that goes down perfect with a burger and a side of house fries. Seems kind of fitting in Evanston. I like it because it's not too sweet. It reminds me a little bit of a better version of Czech Budweiser. I like Budvar, don't love it, so the 2.0 version that is the Gossamer is great. Also, mad props for cans. Cans are vastly underrated for crafts.

3. Minnesota - Surly's Bender

Continuing with our canned theme, I took some good advice from Maize n Brewer wallrock, who suggested I try anything from Surly. I'm a sucker for clever/in-your-face beer names, especially if the beer backs it up. Oatmeal brown? Sign me up. Bender is just that, a combination of an oatmeal stout and a brown ale. Certaily heavier than the Stone Brown from Nebraska, this has a sweet combination of hops and oatmeal. I really like the brown sugar finish on this one. I also think I'm making up for not picking enough browns in my Leaders preview, but it is fall now, after all. Couldn't have come soon enough.

2. Nebraska - Empyrean Brewing Company Super Nova Summer Fest and Third Stone Brown

Oh goodness. Best brewing company on this list, barely missing out on the top spot because, well, this is Michigan, fergodsakes. Couldn't decide between their SuperNova or the Third Stone. The lightest brown ale I've tried so far, with a perfect balance of caramel and hops. Then there's the SuperNova. Given that it's Nebraska, this summer beer is brewed with an extra helping of sweet corn, which I really like. It's being phased out for the fall season, but get your hands on some before it's all gone. Should still be around in 6-packs.

1. Michigan - Grizzly Peak Anniversary Black Ale

I'm actually shocked I hadn't written about Grizzly Peak before today, because I the last time I went there this happened: (HT: ESPN)

So it's 1/1. This year's Anniversary Black uses a new hop blend, resulting in a much darker hue and deeper finish. They use a really dark malt as well, which coincidentally yields a fairly sharp bite for a black ale. I love this beer, especially when I'm still wearing a jacket because it's 40 degrees in Ann Arbor and we're waiting for Nebraska to kick off. Go now. Run, don't walk, and prepare to stay a while.

Your thoughts?