Beer of the Week: A Pour of Polar Vortex for Our Beleaguered Basketball Team


Remember a time before blisteringly cold temperatures were hashtagged into ominous-sounding catchphrases? You should, because that was, like, two years ago. But these days, “it’s so frickin’ cold outside” somehow just doesn’t play as well on social media as #polarvortex. So now that we’ve been greeted by the season’s first single-digit chill, you can expect that term to re-emerge in full force. And speaking of cold streaks, our beleaguered New York Knicks have plunged into depths of epic futility — even by their own horrid standards. Though the weather might slowly lift itself back into a realm of respectability, don’t expect a similar rebound from our city’s sad pro hoops squad. With a job no mortal should envy, head coach Derek Fisher desperately needs his own cold one. Just don’t expect any self-respecting Knicks fan to pick up the tab.

Every winter, upstate’s Southern Tier Brewing releases a seasonal offering called Old Man. It might seem like a weird choice for Fisher; at 40 years old, he’s actually the youngest coach in the NBA. But think about how quickly he’s aging, attempting to manage a team that’s lost fourteen straight games — most by double-digit gulfs — en route to the league’s worst record. His best players have either given up on the season or have been traded at this point. So what’s left to do but drink? Fisher might as well consider bringing a six-pack courtside, to fully enjoy the unending tragicomedy dubbed “Knicks basketball.”

Billed as an Old Ale, Old Man is supposed to demonstrate a full malt body, as the style suggests. In drinking, it tends to offer more by way of muted bitterness, reminiscent of an IPA that’s been sitting in the fridge for too long. Its categorization seems forced and ill-advised, kind of like when Phil Jackson and Fisher decided to foist the Triangle Offense upon Carmelo and company.

Old Man is ultimately redeemed by a surprising crispness that emerges in its brief, punctuated finish. I only hope for Fisher’s sake that he’s able to attain similar redemption from his brief time at the Garden, though somehow, I doubt he’ll find it. Instead he should simply drink himself into submission, and proudly accept the fate of our doomed franchise. It’s always helped me.

Southern Tier, on a brighter note, is one of the great success stories to come out of New York. Its offerings are generally high in ABV and full on flavor. Look for six-pack bottles of the brewery’s seasonal release at bodegas across town, in its artfully rendered cold blue packaging. Old Man Winter Ale is best served really cold, like the #polarvortex, or the soul of a typical Knicks fan.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.