As everyone knows, the real first half of the game is the tailgate party. No one tailgates like a Bills fan. The king of the tailgate was my friend Red Mrozek. He cooked over a hardwood fire, had a generator so that he could watch the pregame show, and required at least three different beer styles per game.

On a nice sunny day when a tent or cover are not required, there is time for an extra beer or two, so a Pilsner, American Pale Ale, or Dawn Patrol Gold might be in order. These are “calibration beers,” something refreshing and low in alcohol. Some cheese (if it’s not too hot out) or chips and dip or salsa could be brought out now. It’s time to light the fire.

As the temperature and the rain begin to fall, put up the E-Z Up first, start the fire, then reach for an Oktoberfest, or perhaps an English E.S.B., something with a little more body and malt flavor. Some chili and cheese dip heated at home and kept warm on the ride to the stadium would be appropriate.

Regardless of the weather, the main course must be grilled. Red’s opening-day tradition was surf ‘n’ turf. If you’re not that ambitious, may I suggest a thick hamburger on a fresh roll. You can use some of the leftover cheese or chili dip to dress it up. I would recommend a nice brown ale (English, American or Belgian) or a fresh Aviator Red to wash down your dinner. Maybe a sausage from your local butcher is more to your liking. The match here is easy; just choose a beer from the country of origin of the sausage style. Polish Zywiec or Okocim with Kielbasa, Oktoberfest or Weissbier with the German favorites Bratwurst or Knockwurst. See how easy?

That brings us up to game time. GO BILLS!!! Don’t look for beer with flavor inside the stadium; there isn’t any. Save your palate for a reward after the game.

Since traffic is going to suck for a good hour, have dessert after the game. Savor the victory at your tailgate spot while you watch everyone else try to wedge into the same two lanes. Reward yourself for your efforts at carrying the team all that way on your enthusiastic screaming and play calling from the stands. Have a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie made with Oatmeal Stout. See how their rich sweet taste is similar to the sweet taste of victory? Now this calls for the robust taste of a German Bock or a malty English Porter. If someone else is driving, you might even want a complex Barleywine Ale while you detail for your pals how your complex game plan helped the Bills whoop this week’s victim.

Make that final beer something tasty, and drink it in a toast to Red, the king of the tailgate. Here we are in October already. I’m not sure if we have had our fill of hot summer days and the crisp, hop-accented Pilsners, Pale Ales, and other light-bodied favorites that slake our summer thirsts. But, ready or not, our thoughts must now turn to taking in the boat, putting up the storm windows, and Buffalo Bills football.