Football Across America: A Game-Day Brew for Every Team
The staples of craft beer brewing are that the breweries are small, the beer is innovative and unique, and the brewers are very much involved with their communities. And while beer lovers and football fans may just think the beers taste good, these 31 local craft brewers are creating brews that not only go down easy but also say a lot about their respective cities and teams. Ahead, a craft beer for each NFL team, especially for the fans who support them to drink with loyalty.
Photo By: Nathan J Shaulis ©Copyright 2013 Nathan J Shaulis A.R.R.
With brightly colored cans and forward-thinking brews, SanTan brings craft beer to the Southwest in a major way, and Cardinals fans approve. Their flagship brew, Devil’s Ale, is a dark brew with a citrusy caramel malt flavor made with Cascade and Centennial hops grown in the Pacific Northwest. The result? Arizona’s highest-rated pale ale and a fan favorite.
By Cindy Augustine
Founded by a couple of college buddies who learned the business of beer after graduation, SweetWater was born in Atlanta 17 years ago, and their most-popular brew, 420 Extra Pale Ale, debuted that same year. The West Coast-style pale ale is hoppy and crisp, a big favorite of Falcons fans, and is now served in cans.
Packed with flavors of lemon and orange, black pepper, lemongrass, and herbs like coriander, Dogfish Head’s Namaste is a pale Belgian-style wheat beer that is fruity and sour at once — and pairs well with most food to boot. First brewed in 2009 to raise money for a Belgian brewery, this brew is now available year-round much to the delight of Ravens fans.
During the blizzard of 1986, Buffalo mayor Jimmy Griffin famously said: “Go home, grab a six-pack and wait it out.” Perhaps that love of beer is what inspired Flying Bison to open up in the upstate city. Bills fans in the know opt for the brewery’s light golden brew, Buffalo Lager — to pair with wings, of course — on game day.
Sure, Carolina is known for excellent barbecue, and Panther fans are lucky to have it served at Bank of America Stadium. But they’re equally fortunate to have NoDa Brewing Company’s beers served there. One standout? The Jam Session, a pale ale with hints of citrus and pine that is both light and not too hoppy, making it super easy to drink.
Bears fans take drinking as seriously as they do football, and Outlaw IPA from Two Brothers Brewing is as bold and playful as its name suggests. Hoppy, with notes of citrus and pine and undertones of caramel malt, this variety is a favorite of locals who pick up cans on game day or flock to Jim and Jason Ebel's (yes, the two brothers) tap house just outside the Windy City.
Craft breweries aren’t really plentiful in Ohio, but Mt. Carmel Brewing, which launched in 2005 out of a 1920s farmhouse basement just outside of Cincinnati, has given fans something to cheer for. Clean, crisp and easy to drink, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company’s Blonde Ale goes down easy, Bengals fans agree. Plus, it pairs well with Cincinnati’s game-day favorite food, chili, which locals prepare differently than in pretty much every other city in America.
Great Lakes Brewing Company, on the outskirts of Lake Erie, has given Browns fans a variety of brews to choose from on game day. From the seasonal favorite Christmas Ale to the Dortmunder Gold Lager and Edmund Fitzgerald (a porter), to Lake Erie Monster and Burning River, the craft beers pay homage to the Cleveland area — whether in terms of geography, history, or the city’s famous folk.
The Dallas Cowboys are known for their legendary team — and cheerleaders — so perhaps it’s only fitting that the city’s questionably named beer is a hit. From popular local brewery Deep Ellum Brewing Company comes American Blonde Ale: a citrusy, floral, orange-colored, balanced golden ale. It’s a bit subtler than the popular Dreamcrusher, making it a game-day staple among fans.
Broncos fans have plenty of mile-high traditions, and just as they take their football seriously, they are equally passionate about their beer drinking. Enter Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, known for over 20 years of beer production with an array of brews including year-round favorite White Rascal. This unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale is spiced with orange and coriander — slightly unexpected but light and easy to drink.
Perhaps the story of gangs in Detroit is a little more dramatic than this beer that bears a gang's name, but Atwater’s Purple Gang Pilsner, a Czech Pilsener-style beer, is smooth and light and lies somewhere between a pale ale and a cream ale. It embodies the spirit of the city, and die-hard Lions fans appreciate the credibility the brewery brought to the Motor City — and a silver medal doesn’t hurt either.
Green Bay Packers
Embodying the small-town, Midwestern sensibility that makes them right at home in Wisconsin, New Glarus Brewery and their prize-winning beer are perfectly paired with Packers and their Cheesehead fans. One notable brew is the Serendipity, made with apples, cranberries and cherries — made by “happy accident” after a severe drought washed out the area’s cherry crop. Using what they had on hand, the brewers found that the wild fruit was well-suited for fermentation, and the rest of the sour ale’s tale is history.
Established in 1994, Texas’ oldest craft brewery has a better reputation than the Houston Texans — though that’s not saying much. Saint Arnold’s beer, which is also sold at the stadium, may be the refuge fans seek during a losing streak, and the Weedwacker variety, a German-style wheat beer, is the ideal way to get through a particularly tough football season.
Sun King Brewing out of Indianapolis may be the biggest brewery in the area and, after barely five years in operation, has a slew of awards to brag about. One such notable (and prize-winning) brew is the Sunlight Cream Ale — an easy-to-drink, crisp, clean, understated American lager that Colts fans can't seem to get enough of.
Besides being served in a eye-catching can, smooth ale Killer Whale is one of Bold City’s more popular varieties. The can’s clever artwork and pleasing colors are almost as appealing as the not-too-creamy, not-too-hoppy brew, which is brewed just miles away from EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs
Not unlike the Chiefs, Boulevard Brewing Company is a hometown success. While Kansas City was once home to a healthy handful of small, regional breweries, many disappeared over the years, but this one remained. Nearly 30 years later, Boulevard is the biggest craft brewer in the Midwest, and their full-bodied pilsner, KC Pils, gives back to the community through beer sales. It’s hoppy and malty, and has a great story to boot.
Brewzzi, a microchain brewery and Italian-American bistro headed up by a German brewmaster, sounds as incongruous as football in south Florida. Yet, like the sunshine and retirees, the combination works. Dolphins fans in the know opt for the year-round varieties like Boca Festbier and the fruity and aptly named Tropical Madness for tailgates and game-day festivities.
Vikings fans have plenty to grumble about, but Super Bowl losses aside, Minneapolis brewery Surly Brewing has plenty of ways to ease the pain: the aptly named (and super-hoppy) Furious IPA, the Belgian-style CynicAle and Surly Bender, a creamy brown ale with hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. Easy to drink and served in cans, it’s a perfect pairing for game day, win or lose.
New England Patriots
Since the Patriots are a New England team, it’s only natural that fans opt for beer that comes from Maine — in this case Allagash Brewery, which launched almost 20 years ago. With Belgian techniques and styles, the brews are almost as popular as Tom Brady and his touchdown passes. The Tripel, with notes of honey and banana, is a fruity and herbaceous strong golden ale — a winner indeed.
New Orleans Saints
The Big Easy seems to have it all: great food, die-hard fans and some of the best beverage options in the South. But on game day, cocktails won't do, and Saints fans have turned to NOLA Brewing for cans of craft beer since they launched in 2008. The names pay homage to the city itself — like 40 Arpent, named for the neighborhood where the brewery is located, and the Red Beans and Rice Red Ale (made with real red beans). Another standout? The American IPA Hopitoulas, named after the iconic Tchoupitoulas Street, where the brewery is located.
New York Giants
Way more predictable than the Giants' winning streak and Eli Manning’s record is Brooklyn Brewery, headed up by Garrett Oliver out of Williamsburg. The brews range from easy-to-drink to experimental. A hands-down fan favorite is Brooklyn Lager, which is fresh, clean, crisp and not too hoppy, and far easier to count on than a Super Bowl win.
New York Jets
Since the Jets technically play in New Jersey, it’s only fair that the Garden State gets some love too. Local brewery Cricket Hill produces the aptly named East Coast Lager — a German-style, crisp, full-flavored (yet light) brew that serves as one of their flagship beers. The other is their American Ale, which likewise launched in 2002.
Raiders fans are nothing if not loyal — "die-hard" is another word to describe them. So, along with body-painting, tailgating and getting rowdy with the opposing team’s fans, they also take their beer drinking seriously. Linden Street Brewery's California Common Lager is a copper-colored, malt-forward brew — the first the company produced — and warmly embraced by Raider Nation.
From the City of Brotherly Love comes Yards Brewing Company, which produces beers named for the city’s founding fathers and the traditions that followed. Their Love Stout (chock-full of chocolate and coffee notes) might be perfect for a long, cold winter, but it’s a bit heavy for game day. Instead, fans turn to the brewery’s Brawler, a malty session ale with a low ABV (3.8 percent) that’s ideal for a long day of touchdowns and drinking.
Almost as beloved by the city of Pittsburgh as the Steelers are, 10-year-old local business East End Brewing Company produces a dozen or so brews — one-off creations, and seasonal and year-round varieties. Fans head into the brewery during Growler Hours to fill theirs up for game day, and one fun flavor is banana-scented Money Boy, a bright, light hefeweizen.
St. Louis Rams
While Rams fans love Schlafly’s seasonal brews like Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest, it’s the year-round-available beer Kolsch that makes for a perfect game-day option. This medium-to-light classic golden ale is made with yeast that’s sourced from a brewery in western Germany — far from St. Louis. But Schafly isn’t without its own history; their taproom is Missouri’s oldest operating brewpub.
San Diego Chargers
Chargers fans may not have the best team in the nation, but it’s likely that they have the best weather, as well as damn good fish tacos and a handful of great breweries nearby. Case in point: Green Flash and their array of brews, like Hop Head Red, Le Freak and their West Coast IPA — a hoppy beer with pine, citrus and floral notes — that may just please the fans more than their team does.
Seahawks fans appreciate Spokane’s variety of solid beers, which are quickly gaining a national reputation. They include the brews from No-Li Brewhouse, formerly known as Northern Lights Brewing Co. Spin Cycle (once called Crystal Bitter) is a burgundy-hued ale produced by combining English, German and American brewing styles, resulting in a bitter, complex and highly drinkable beer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing produces wood-aged ales that give common brews interesting notes and flavors. Look no further than Cigar City’s Guava Grove — made with pink guava — and Jai Alai IPA (with notes of dill and vanilla). Another favorite of Bucs fans? The Florida Cracker White Ale, which is light, crisp and super easy to drink on hot game days and at parking-lot tailgates.
Out of Nashville comes a Mexican-inspired local brew from Yazoo Brewing Company called Dos Perros Ale, a lighter beer (it uses a bit of flaked corn) with a slightly lower alcohol content (3.5 percent). And Titans fans know how well it pairs with barbecue and hot chicken— a winning game-day combination indeed.
Brewed in the nation’s capital, DC Brau has hit the sweet spot in the beer market (cool can art, a recession-friendly price tag) and Redskins fans approve. Among fan favorites are The Public (a caramel-colored American pale ale with citrus notes) and The Citizen, a Belgian-inspired ale with a caramel hue and a 7 percent ABV — making it the brewery’s strongest offering.