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2014 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament: Championship Weekend Drink and Food Pairings

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Do it right, people.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Stop preparing for games with off-brand hot dogs and beer that asks you whether you're down for anything ("anything" including drinking things that shouldn't even be fed to dogs). Chuck Yeager didn't go 100 million miles per hour so that you could settle for anything less than the amazing. Do your part as a lacrosse-loving American: Eat and drink like a freakin' champion so that Canada knows their place.

As a cultured man of infinite wonder, I'm going to throw two pairings your way for this weekend's semifinals. I'll offer a beer recommendation and a complementing food item to make you a hit at your tailgate or living room, the foundation for making your friends jealous that you're such an accomplished human. As always, your thoughts and recommendations are welcome in the comments. Let's do this thing.

Semifinal I: Denver-Duke

Drink Pairing: Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Food Pairing: Beef sliders with jalapenos and jack cheese

A game that is expected to serve as one of the finest of the tournament deserves -- no, requires -- an elite complementary menu. The drink and food pairings -- superficially -- do not necessarily tie to the regions in which Duke and Denver find residence, but the pairings do connect well to the action that the Pios and Devils will create on the field: Hheat that is enjoyable featuring fine undertones of beauty.

I haven't had a beer this year better than Dogfish Head's Burton Baton. This is the apex of your day, an almost flawless beer that is double-threaded and oak-aged. The beer is highly volatile -- it comes in at 10.00% ABV -- but it is smoother than a bullet through water. This beer can do all things, a magic cure-all elixir that should be peddled at tent shows by Dr. McGillicutty.

To support the beer, I recommend jalapeno beef sliders. The preparation is straightforward: (1) In a bowl, combine ground beef, diced jalapenos, salt and pepper (to season), a smidge of garlic powder, chopped shallots or onion, a smidge of paprika, and grated jack cheese (you can also include some heavy cream and panko bread crumbs, but they may taste like meatballs or meatloaf that way); (2) make little slider patties and grill over medium-high heat until done to desired temperature and thoroughness; and (3) serve on mini dinner rolls. I generally don't serve these with any sauces, but do occasionally include diced bacon in the patties (what?!). The kick from the sliders will match incredibly well with the deepness of the Burton Baton. Do this and feel the warming embrace of heaven.

Semifinal II: Maryland-Notre Dame

 

Drink Pairing: Brooklyn Sorachi Ale

Food Pairing: Grilled oysters

Maryland does crabcakes and Indiana does [I have no idea what Indiana does], but that doesn't mean that you should stick to regional flavors. Terps-Irish needs some kick, and this pairing provides the necessary combustibles to get the job done.

The great thing about grilling oysters is that preparing and cooking them can be super easy and deliver the goods despite doing them relatively naked: (1) Buy a couple dozen large oysters; (2) Scrub the oysters clean; (3) Place the oysters, cupped side down, on a grate set for medium-high heat; (4) Grill until the oysters start to open after two or three minutes; (5) Set the oysters aside to cool slightly and pitch any oysters that failed to open (they're dead, and if you eat them, you'll be dead); (6) Pry the shells open -- retain the liquid! -- and cut the muscle connection the oyster to the shell; and (7) Serve with butter, lemon, and/or hot sauce. Presto! You're a culinary genius!

You can also do a butter mixture on shucked oysters and get a more complex dish (and you may avoid overcooking them that way), but doing that requires doing work that takes time away from enjoying Brooklyn's sublime Sorachi Ale. A saison using a Japanese hop, the Sorachi Ale has pop with a lot of carbonation with a lemon taste. It should put some giddy-up in your oyster-feasting belly.