With football season in full gear as well as Major League Baseball’s upcoming pennant races to the World Series, “down-home grub” is always welcome. Twice baked potatoes packed with bacon, sour cream and cheese are sure to please as they're placed beside a tall glass of suds.

Twice Baked Potatoes

8 baking potatoes, washed

3 Tbsp. canola oil

2 sticks salted butter

1 c. bacon bits (fry your own!)

1 c. sour cream

1 c. Medium or sharp cheddar, plus more for topping

1/2 c. whole milk

2 tsp. seasoned salt

3 green onions, sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with the canola oil and bake for 1 hour, making sure they're sufficiently cooked through.

Slice the butter into pats. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the bacon bits and sour cream. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 F.

With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scrape out the insides into the mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. Leave a small rim of potato intact for support. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet.

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Smash the potatoes into the butter, bacon and sour cream. Add the cheese, milk, seasoned salt, green onions and black pepper to taste and mix together well.

Fill the potato shells with the filling. I like to fill the shells so they look abundant and heaping. Top each potato with a little more grated cheese and pop them into the oven until the potato is warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pair this with Figueroa Mountain’s Hoppy Poppy IPA, a light-bodied “West Coast” India pale ale, featuring Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe hops and poppy seeds. Like Figueroa Mountain in May, this brew is bursting with a bouquet of floral, citrusy hop flavors and aromas.

With an ABV 6.5% and 65 IBUs, this beer was brewed using Pale Two Row, Crystal, Wheat and Cara malts. The flavor is mellow and smooth with a very moderate lingering bitterness.

Medium or sharp cheddar cheese has that pungent flavor intensity to hold its own against the hops in an IPA in the best possible way. The salty cheese plays well to the salt/bitter dynamic, and the cheese leaves a creamy, mouth-coating film that the hops and alcohol will clear away.

Winning a gold medal at the 2012 Los Angeles International Beer Festival, silver at the 2014 New York International Beer Competition, bronze at the 2015 Denver International Beer Competition and an honorable mention at the 2014 Denver International Beer Competition, this beer will wet your whistle, and the double stuffed potato will give you extra energy to cheer for your favorite team.

Enjoy!

John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at jd.finley@comcast.net.

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